Newsletter: Michigan Home to 92,000 Clean Energy Jobs; Congress takes up PURPA

This newsletter was originally published on September 8, 2017.

Michigan Home to More Than 92,000 Clean Energy Jobs

More than 92,000 people now work in Michigan’s clean energy industry, a 5.3 percent increase since 2015, according to an analysis unveiled today by the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council (Michigan EIBC), Clean Energy Trust (CET) and the national nonpartisan business group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2). With clean energy jobs growing almost three times as fast as overall job growth in Michigan, Michigan ranks third among 11 Midwestern states in terms of clean energy employment, and continues to lead the region in advanced transportation jobs.

The analysis – available at – is based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data and a comprehensive survey of thousands of businesses across the region. The Clean Jobs Midwest report provides detailed breakdowns of clean energy jobs – including job totals for every county, congressional district and state legislative district in the Midwest region. There are 599,775 clean energy jobs throughout the entire region.

According to the report, Michigan is a leader in the advanced transportation industry, supporting more than 28,000 jobs, which account for almost 45 percent of all advanced transportation jobs in the region. The report also found energy efficiency continues to be the largest clean energy employer in Michigan, accounting for 50,279 jobs in areas like hardware and software implementers, high efficiency heating and cooling systems installers and system technicians. The biggest job growth occurred in the renewable energy sector, including jobs in the solar and wind industries, which grew by more than 14 percent in the past year.  There are 5,672 solar jobs in Michigan and 4,642 in wind energy generation.

Today’s report also includes a number of worker profiles, including Samantha Frick of Michigan EIBC Member ChargePoint, Suzanne Neumann of Michigan EIBC Member The Green Panel, and Ria Lester of WindSecure.


As Congress Takes Up PURPA, Mr. Baas Goes to Washington

Dar Baas of the Kent County Department of Public Works testifies before a House Subcommittee on the Public Utilities Regulatory Policy Act.

The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing Wednesday to discuss issues and concerns over the Public Utilities Regulatory Policy Act (PURPA), with Dar Baas of the Kent County Department of Public Works, a Michigan EIBC member company, among those invited to testify. Kent County owns a waste-to-energy facility that is operated by fellow Michigan EIBC member company Covanta.

In his testimony to the Subcommittee, which is chaired by Congressman Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph), Baas called for modernization of PURPA to address the reluctance or refusal of some utilities to enter into power purchase agreements with new and existing facilities or the avoided cost pricing terms or contract lengths offered, both of which threaten the long-term viability of waste-to-energy facilities like the one in Kent County.

Utility representatives argued that some wind and solar companies are manipulating PURPA’s provisions that limit the size of those renewable energy assets that utilities must accept, and called for a wholesale rewrite of PURPA, which was enacted in 1978. Near the end of the hearing, Michigan Congressman Tim Walberg (R-Tipton) indicated he was working to develop legislation that will be introduced as the PURPA Modernization Act of 2017.

In addition to the public testimony offered, Michigan EIBC company Cyprus Creek Renewables also submitted a formal letter that was also included in the record.

Michigan EIBC continues to closely track issues involving PURPA, including the current proceedings before the Michigan Public Service Commission and in other state policy discussions.


Additional Speakers Added to Powering Mobility Conference – Register Today!


With the Powering Mobility conference just two weeks away, buzz continues to grow about the conference, and additional speakers added. Keynote speakers include US Senator Gary Peters and Rachel Bhattacharya, Maven’s Director of Commercial Mobility, who join a group of private and public sector leaders confirmed to speak at the fourth annual Michigan Energy Conference, Powering Mobility, on September 25th. Senator Peters is co-chair of the Senate Smart Transportation Caucus, while Bhattacharya leads the commercial mobility efforts for Maven, a mobility company launched by GM last year. In this role, she also oversees Maven Gig, which provides a business model for car sharing services like Uber and Lyft that’s been described as “tailor made for the gig economy.”

The Powering Mobility conference gives attendees an inside look at the cutting edge of mobility and how we will charge and fuel the vehicles of tomorrow. The conference will dive deep into the intersection of energy, telecommunication, and transportation to highlight the role clean fuel vehicles will play in “powering mobility.” The event boasts unparalleled networking with top-tier industry executives, policymakers, and thought leaders.

Other confirmed speakers for this exciting event include:

  • Michael Barube, U.S. DOE Vehicle Technologies Office
  • Kevin Bopp, Bedrock
  • Shannon Bouton, McKinsey Center for Business and Environment
  • Jim Ellis, ChargePoint
  • Chris King, Siemens Smart Grid
  • John Maddox, American Center for Mobility
  • Carrie Morton, Mcity
  • Chris Nelder, Rocky Mountain Institute
  • Trevor Pawl, MEDC
  • John Peracchio, Peracchio and Co.; Michigan Council on Future Mobility
  • Danil Prokhorov, Toyota Research Institute
  • Jim Saber, NextEnergy
  • Commissioner Norm Saari, Michigan Public Service Commission
  • Kellen Schefter, Edison Electric Institute
  • Scott Steiner, Lockheed Martin
  • Jon Walker, Lyft

The event is a collaboration between the following organizations:


Don’t miss your opportunity to attend this exciting event. Register now!


New Members:

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Michigan Energy News:

  • Governor Snyder declared an energy emergency in the wake of Hurricane Harvey to ensure adequate fuel supplies by waiving certain Clean Air Act requirements pertaining to summer use, sale and distribution of gasoline.
  • State Rep. Jon Hoadley headlined a town hall meeting on energy policy in Kalamazoo last week.
  • A new Affordable Energy Caucus has been formed in the State House, which will be chaired by State Rep. John Reilly.
  • Critics say the Public Service Commission could harm electric choice in the state by making it too expensive to buy from alternative suppliers.
  • The Public Service Commission is seeking public comment on Integrated Resource Plan guidelines. As part of this effort, the Commission hosted a public hearing this week in Livonia, with additional hearing scheduled for Wednesday, September 13 in Grand Rapids and Tuesday, September 19 in Marquette.
  • The Public Service Commission approved Consumers Energy’s pilot program for large businesses interested in voluntary purchases of renewable energy.
  • Following high-wind storms in March, the Public Service Commission want the state’s two major utilities to update their grid infrastructure and install more smart meters.
  • Indiana Michigan Power announced plans for a $13 million transmission upgrade.
  • A federal grant will fund a “green infrastructure” project on Lake Superior.
  • Traverse City’s “Green Team” is working toward the city’s goal of 100% renewable energy by 2020.
  • Coopersville has begun replacing old mercury vapor streetlights with LEDs.
  • GVSU received recognition for its sustainability practices.
  • Michigan manufacturers are using energy efficiency to increase their competitiveness.
  • A draft policy in Huron county looks to restrict commercial solar development, calling it an “existential threat to the county’s agricultural economy.”
  • Six years after it was first announced, a 1.6 MW solar project is now under construction at a former foundry site in southern Michigan. 
  • A redevelopment project announced for Midtown Detroit will include “eco-homes” that will include rooftop solar and solar thermal for water heating. 
  • BWL plans to build a large solar array in Delta Township.
  • A Michigan forum explores how to further advance energy production from farm waste
  • Monroe County Community College activated a new geothermal heating and cooling system.
  • Michigan agencies are calling on Enbridge to make immediate repairs to its Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac after sections were discovered to have protective coating missing, a development that has Gov. Rick Snyder “greatly concerned.” 
  • Leveraging MSU technology, a Holland firm is hoping to drive cost out of lithium-ion batteries.
  • Michigan EIBC member company Meazon broke a key cost barrier in sub-metering technology that can monitor energy use down to individual devices.
  • A system of solar carports at Michigan State University is expected to save the school $10 million in energy costs over the next 25 years. 


News from Washington:

  • Congress reconvened this week.
  • House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden said his panel’s fall agenda could include a major restructuring of the Energy Department. Walden noted that the Energy Department has not been fully reauthorized since its formation in 1977.
  • Energy Secretary Rick Perry said he is releasing half a million barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to curb rising gas prices. He said he will review additional requests for emergency releases.
  • The head of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has been appointed to lead the U.S. EPA’s Midwest regional office, which includes Michigan.
  • On a weekly energy podcast, a senior Energy Department adviser talks about the process, critical reactions and key findings of the agency’s newly released grid study.
  • The EPA’s new system for vetting grant applications on the basis of “climate change” language has raised concerns among some career officials and outside experts that grant money is being politicized.
  • In preparation for the EPA’s public comment hearing on the mid-term evaluation of emissions standards for new vehicles, environmental and industry groups are holding calls to organize their stance toward the issue.
  • To ensure an adequate fuel supply in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the EPA issued emergency waivers to allow a dozen states and the District of Columbia to ignore some clean-air requirements for gasoline. Following this, a group of attorneys general and local officials sent a letter urging the EPA to retract the letter, which they called “legally incorrect.”
  • The Nuclear Regulatory Commission cannot restart efforts to license a long-term nuclear waste storage facility until Congress renews funding for the plan.
  • The Energy Department’s grid study may influence the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on issues related to electricity market prices, resiliency modeling and infrastructure issues, says a former FERC commissioner. 
  • The United States, Mexico and Canada are largely in agreement on energy-related issues following their second round of talks to modernize NAFTA. The countries have not determined if a revised version of the agreement will include energy as its own chapter again or weave the topic throughout the entire agreement.


Cities and Communities Leading in Advanced Energy:


National Grid and Efficiency News:

  • Natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey highlight the value of off-grid energy systems
  • New Hampshire energy regulators delayed a controversial decision over a transmission line that would bring Canadian hydropower to New England until next March.
  • Illinois regulators approved an $80 million refund for ComEd customers as part of the utility’s switch to a new energy efficiency funding mechanism under the Future Energy Jobs Act passed last year.
  • Ameren and S&C Electric successfully tested the islanding capabilities of an Illinois microgrid for 24 hours using only solar, wind and battery storage.
  • In the second quarter of 2017, over 400 energy storage systems for both residential and commercial customers were deployed across the country. Download the US Energy Storage Monitor, Q3 2017, here for the full scoop.


National Solar News:


National Wind News:

  • Developers of a wind-energy transmission line recently rejected by Missouri regulators are seeking a rehearing
  • Delaware’s governor signed an executive order to establish a working group to study the state’s potential for offshore wind.
  • Wind energy in California has hit a lull in growth over the last four years, and experts say the state is “at risk of going backward in total capacity.” 
  • A handful of developers are working on airborne wind turbines, including U.S.-based Makani Power. 


National Fossil Fuel and Nuclear News:

  • Illinois regulators approved the first fracking permit under new state regulations, despite numerous concerns raised by advocates. 
  • Many U.S. refineries taken offline by Hurricane Harvey have gradually restarted, ending a spike in gasoline prices while raising U.S. oil prices. Oil companies are working to repair seven flood-damaged refineries in Texas following Hurricane Harvey, while nine other major refineries remain completely offline.
  • The Port of Houston, which ships more gasoline than any other U.S. port, is expected to reopen today after a week-long closure following Hurricane Harvey.
  • The Bureau of Land Management will allow oil and gas drilling near Dinosaur National Monument in Utah, citing President Trump’s goal of increasing domestic energy production.
  • New York environmental regulators denied a key permit for a $900 million natural gas power plant, saying the environmental review of a 7.8-mile pipeline leading to the plant was inadequate. 
  • Coal producers in North Dakota are remaining hopeful that the Trump administration can help revive their industry.
  • Coal production in Montana is up by more than 2 million tons this year, but it’s still trailing 2015 production levels by about 6 million tons.
  • A 2016 report from a project management company warned utilities about serious problems at a now-abandoned nuclear project.
  • A U.S. citizen was sentenced to two years in jail and fined $20,000 for sharing nuclear technologies with China without the explicit permission of the Department of Energy. The Department of Justice prosecuted Szuhsiung Ho for breaking U.S. technology transfer rules during almost 20 years of aiding Chinese efforts in developing certain types of nuclear reactors.


National Technology and Market News:

  • Four teams of researchers in Illinois will receive millions in federal funding to advance projects in power electronics and converting forms of electricity.
  • Hydrogen Power Storage projects can hold electricity for months, leading some to claim this new technology is “better than batteries.”
  • Lithium resources found on the border of Oregon and Nevada could be good news for Tesla, which needs the element to manufacture batteries at its Gigafactory outside of Reno. 


National Vehicle and Mobility News:


Michigan Energy Events:

Advancing Women in Energy invites you to the September members-only luncheon in Lansing on September 15. The luncheon will feature keynote speaker Phyllis E Currie, MISO Board of Director. RSVP here.  

Michigan EIBC, together with Michigan Energy Options and the Institute for Energy Innovation, are hosting a UP Energy Roundtable and Networking Meeting on Tuesday, September 19 at Northern Michigan University’s Bottum University Center in Marquette. The event will feature discussion on a range of issues, including UP energy planning, the opportunities and barriers to self-generation (both solar and combined-heat-and-power), and an update on the Michigan Energy Office’s CHP Roadmap. The UP Energy Roundtable is free for Michigan EIBC members; $25 for non-members.

The Powering Mobility conference will take place on September 25 at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. The event, which is the 4th Annual Michigan Energy Future Conference, will bring together leaders from industry, government, utilities, finance, and academe working at the nexus of advanced mobility and vehicle electrification. 

The 1st Annual Sustainable Detroit Forum is scheduled for October 25. The event will consist of interactive learning, keynotes, and short presentations. Proposals for presentations will be accepted for Sustainable ProjectsPersonal Green Stories, and Lessons Learned/Greatest Failures. 

NextEnergy invites you to the Autonomy & Mobility Conference on October 25 in Detroit. Autonomy & Mobility 2017 will provide an open forum for all participants to share ideas. In addition to focused sessions with leading experts, the event will culminate in a unique, interactive exchange among panelists and attendees. Register here.


National Energy Events:

Solar Power International will take place September 10-13 in Las Vegas. Powered by the Solar Energy Industries Association and the Smart Electric Power Alliance, SPI is the largest and fastest growing solar show in North America.
Renewable Energy Grid Operations: Integration, Forecasting, Modeling, Planning and Curtailment, hosted by EUCI, is scheduled for September 11-12 in Austin, Texas. This conference will evaluate the biggest challenges to renewable energy integration, and identify solutions and pathways that coordinate responses and overcome these challenges. Case studies from experts and industry professionals from around the country will share their experiences and lessons learned on renewable integration. Register here.

Join the Midwest Energy Research Consortium (M-WERC) at the “Building the Case for Energy and Resource Efficiency” Conference, September 21, in Milwaukee. This conference will show simple steps to reduce energy costs, how to sell projects internally, and recent case studies of energy efficiency projects. Register here

The 2017 Midwest Energy Policy Conference is October 3-4. Join policy makers, businesses, advocates and regulators who’ll be broadening their perspectives on infrastructure, energy efficiency and energy economic development through diverse, fact-based presentations. Click here for details.

ACORE Finance West will take place in San Francisco on October 12. The annual conference highlights top investment opportunities and provide the latest insights on the financing of renewable energy and grid modernization efforts in leading western markets.

EUCI’s Renewable Energy PPAs Seminar is October 16-17 in Denver, Colorado. The Renewable Energy Power Purchase Agreements seminar is designed for those in the renewable energy industry who are new to PPAs or who have worked with PPAs for a while and are ready to gain a deeper understanding of the legal impact of, and allocation of risks under, key PPA provisions. The course will begin with an introduction to the development and financing process and the role of competitive procurement (including RFP solicitations and bilateral negotiations). The instructors will review the various general contract terms found in most non-PPA project agreements that directly impact the PPA negotiations, and provide an overview of environmental and permitting matters that arise in PPA negotiations. Register here.

Join SEIA and Smart Electric Power Alliance for Solar Power Midwest in Chicago, October 19-20. The event features multiple networking and educational opportunities with a targeted, buying audience.
The 2017 U.S. Power and Renewables Summit will take place in Austin on November 7-8. The conference, hosted by Greentech Media, provides an in-depth look at how solar, wind, and related renewable energy technologies are impacting power markeys, and how this interaction is raising key questions and challenges for the industry moving forward.
The U.S. Energy Storage Summit 2017 is taking place December 12-13 in San Francisco. Now in its third year, this event brings together utilities, financiers, regulators, technology innovators, and storage practitioners for two full days of data-intensive presentations, analyst-led panel sessions with industry leaders, and extensive, high-level networking.


Additional Resources:

A website from the Michigan Public Service Commission provides details on updates to state energy laws. For more information, or to sign up for notifications, visit
World Resources Institute recently published an Implementation Guide for Utilities, outlining best practices in designing renewable energy projects to meet large energy customers’ needs. 

Energy leaders — make your nominations today for the 2017 Midwest Energy News 40 Under 40. Open to nominations from all sectors involved in the Midwest’s energy transition.