Newsletter: Michigan House Committee Moves Revised Energy Bills

This newsletter was originally published on January 14, 2015.

Michigan House Committee Moves Revised Energy Bills

The Michigan House Energy Policy Committee Thursday approved a revised version of the energy legislation introduced by Chairman Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton) that makes a number of significant changes to Michigan’s energy policy landscape. As originally introduced, the legislation would have returned Michigan to a fully regulated electricity market, eliminated the Energy Optimization (EO) standard that requires utilities to achieve 1% annual energy efficiency savings (0.75%/ year for natural gas utilities), allowed the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to expire, and moved consideration of future utility investments to a new integrated resource planning process.

As part of the deliberations yesterday, however, the Committee considered and adopted a number of amendments, including the following:

  • Energy Efficiency: The Committee adopted an amendment that would maintain the EO standard for natural gas utilities, and extended the 1% EO standard for electric utilities through 2020, though it could be eliminated sooner in the case of an approved utility plan. The Committee also added incentives for utilities to go beyond the current EO standards, though left additional amendments regarding changes to current cost caps on efficiency measures to be considered on the House floor.
  • Renewable Energy: The RPS would still expire at the end of 2015. An amendment to HB 4397 would set a goal – but not a requirement – of getting 30% of Michigan’s energy from renewable energy and energy efficiency by 2025. There would also be no requirement that third party developers have the opportunity to develop a portion of any new renewable energy projects. (Under current law, independent developers are guaranteed at least 50% of the new renewable energy market, a requirement that has helped to drive down costs for renewables in Michigan.) An amendment was also adopted that would exclude the burning of tires and petroleum coke from the definition of renewable energy.
  • Retail Open Access/ Energy Choice: The amended legislation would maintain the current hybrid market that allows up to 10% of customers to purchase their electricity from alternative energy suppliers (AESs), but with the requirement that in cases in which the Public Service Commission projects a capacity shortfall, AESs would be required to demonstrate adequate capacity to cover the loads they propose to serve.
  • Utility Planning: The legislation maintains its shift of energy planning decisions to an Integrated Resource Planning process overseen by the Public Service Commission, which would evaluate utility proposals and allow rate recovery for new projects only if the utility could demonstrate their proposal was “the most reasonable” option available. The Committee also adopted an amendment that would expand the Michigan Public Service Commission to five members, including one member to represent the interests of residential ratepayers.
  • Other Measures: The Committee also adopted an amendment to expand the availability of on-bill financing for energy upgrades. Changes to the current Net Energy Metering framework, which have been a source of much discussion and controversy on the Senate side, were not addressed in the House legislation.

While many of the amendments represent an improvement over the bills as introduced, Michigan EIBC and its member companies are disappointed that the Michigan House Energy Policy Committee balked at a real opportunity to grow the advanced energy economy in Michigan. The existing renewable energy and energy efficiency standards have been a huge success in creating the diverse portfolio we need, and have provided the necessary certainty to spur billions of dollars in investment in Michigan. We should be building on that success, and hope these bills continue to be improved as the process moves forward.

The legislation now awaits further consideration on the House floor, but it does not appear that the House will take action prior to the annual hunting/ Thanksgiving break.


Road Funding Deal Passes, Imposes Additional Fees on Electric Vehicles

The Michigan Legislature this week passed a roads deal that will ultimately generate $1.2 billion in additional revenue to fix Michigan’s roads and bridges. The funding includes $600 million in reallocated funds from existing budgets, and $600 million in new revenue, including an increase in the tax on gasoline, increases in diesel fuel taxes, and an increase in registration fees. Part of the deal involves fee increases of between $30 and $100 for hybrid electric vehicles and between $100 and $200 for non-hybrid electric vehicles. In addition, hybrid vehicles will pay an additional $2.50 in registration fees for each $0.01 increase in gas taxes, while non-hybrid electric vehicles will pay an addition $5 in annual registration fees for each $0.01 increase in gas taxes. With the gas tax moving from $0.19 to $0.263/ gallon beginning next year, this represents an additional annual registration fee of $18.25 for hybrids and $36.50 for EVs.

Michigan EIBC opposed these increases, particularly at a time when Michigan manufacturers are expanding their production of advanced batteries and electric and hybrid vehicles. We remain concerned that these changes represent a disincentive for Michigan residents to become consumers of the new and burgeoning advanced battery and electric vehicle industry we’re helping to develop.


Energy Innovators Gala Tickets SOLD OUT!
Michigan EIBC is happy to host the 3rd annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala.  James Chen, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Associate General Counsel of Tesla Motors, Inc. will give the keynote speech. Valerie Brader, Executive Director of the Michigan Agency for Energy, will offer opening remarks.

The Gala will take place on Tuesday, November 10, 2015 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing. The event will kick off with a reception at 5:00 pm followed by dinner at 6:00 pm. Tickets have now sold out.
James Chen joined Tesla in August of 2010 and currently serves as the company’s
Vice President of Regulatory Affairs. Based in Washington, D.C., Jim is responsible for all aspects of government affairs and regulation at the international, federal and state levels for Tesla. He also serves as Tesla’s Associate General Counsel where he is tasked with ensuring compliance with the legal requirements applicable to Tesla’s products and facilities. Jim also assists on business deals for the company, including furthering Tesla’s relationships with strategic partners in the established automobile industry.
Valerie Brader is the Executive Director of the Michigan Agency for Energy, a position she has held since the Agency’s creation earlier this year. Her service with the Snyder administration began in 2011, previously serving as Deputy Legal Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Snyder, including work on the City of Detroit bankruptcy case. Before her service in state government she was a member (partner) at Bodman PLC, practicing primarily environmental and corporate law (with a specialization in assisting new or expanding businesses, from incorporation to securing permits and tax credits).
The annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala is the opportunity for Michigan’s advanced energy industry to pay tribute to and recognize those businesses, policymakers, and others who are doing the most to build the industry in Michigan.
Awards will be presented in five categories: 

  • Business of the Year
  • Emerging Company of the Year
  • Employer of the Year
  • Public Official of the Year
  • Energy Innovators Business Hall of Fame


Michigan Energy News

Michigan EIBC member company Walker-Miller Energy Services LLC was named one of the 100 fastest growing inner-city companies by Forbes.

The Traverse Ticker has a piece on Cherryland Electric Cooperative expanding its renewable portfolio.

A Stanford University professor released a report stating that Michigan could get 100 percent of its energy from renewables by 2050, with 26 percent coming from solar alone.

The final coal shipment is expected to arrive at the BC Cobb plant in Muskegon, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Roderick Coy from ABATE has an opinion piece in the Lansing State Journal about the importance of competitive bidding.


New and Renewing Members

Greater Gratiot Development

Greater Gratiot Development, Inc. (GGD) is a private nonprofit development company now in its 37th year of operation. GGD provides a wide range of development services for private industry on behalf of Gratiot County and all the municipal units, and has assisted companies working in wind, solar, bio, as well as oil and gas. GGD administers the Economic Development Corporation, the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, the Hospital Finance Authority and partners with State and Federal agencies to assure the availability of public and private services to companies residing or considering locating in Gratiot County. GGD may show a company a variety of sites options either as a stand-alone or in one of 5 Michigan Certified Business Parks.  


For more than 17 years, groSolar has consistently been one of the nation’s leading solar firms providing the highest quality and innovative solutions for solar energy generation. Our firm has engineered, supplied, and constructed projects from coast to coast.  Our goal is to provide our customers with the most competitively priced, highest quality, on-time solar system that will meet or surpass the client’s needs.

Global Resource Options, Inc. (dba: groSolar) is a privately owned company, which provides turnkey engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) solar photovoltaic (PV) projects for developers, financiers, utlities, and commercial, government, and other institutional clients.  groSolar has designed, built, installed, and procured equipment for more than 120 MW of solar PV systems across the US with more than 2,000 installations.  groSolar also provides operation and maintenance (O&M) services for solar PV system owners. 

Mackinac Technology Company

The Mackinac Technology Company has developed an innovative window system that can achieve thermal performance of R-13 (U-.07) at price points low enough to achieve cost recovery from energy savings in 3-5 years. The new product is a “storm window” type insert that is attached to the interior side of an existing window; the orginal glazing remains in place. A key feature is that the product is color neutral and transparent to visible light. Mackinac’s product is compatible with solar control films and dynamic shading devices and it is ultra light-weight, making it suitable for high rise commercial buildings. 

Metro Consulting Associates

Metro Consulting Associates (MCA) is a full service consulting firm providing geographic information systems (GIS), land surveying, civil engineering, ecological, and land acquisition services. MCA was founded in 2009 has grown to provide a wide range of services. Areas of expertise include: utility, commercial, education, energy, governmental, healthcare, industrial, institutional, municipal, office, residential, and retail. The keys to MCA’s success are our professional relationships, outstanding reputation, and exceptional results. MCA thrives at building long term relationships with our clients through our responsiveness, service, professional integrity, staff, and experience. Today, MCA has grown to a staff of more than 60 professionals with exceptional services that continue to exceed our client’s expectations. MCA has offices in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.


National Energy News

Utility Dive has a piece on the first fully dispatchable solar-storage project in Hawaii.

Morning Consult has a piece on the House Energy and Power committee voting out a resolution disproving of the EPA Clean Power Plan.

Utility Dive also has a piece about the legal battle over demand response and how it will affect California’s goal of a 50 percent renewable portfolio by 2030.

Lyndon Rive, SolarCity founder and CEO, has an opinion piece in Morning Consult, defending the case that net-metering is not a subsidy.

Michigan EIBC’s national partner, Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) released a report that suggests for every dollar spent in demand response, consumers will get four dollars back in value.

Utility Dive has a story on on-bill financing for energy efficiency projects gaining traction in Midwest states.

Visual Capitalist has a story on how the top 5 global brands use renewable energy.


Michigan Energy Events

The November Michigan Energy Forum will take place in Ann Arbor on November 12. The these for this month’s event is “Case Studies and Available Incentives for Commercial Energy Retrofits.” The event, which is free for attendees, takes place at Ann Arbor SPARK, 330 E. Liberty St. in Ann Arbor. Registration is available here.


Additional Resources 

Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) is home to PowerSuite, a suite of tools that allows companies a one-stop on-line portal to search, track, and collaborate on state legislation and regulatory proceedings from around the country.
PowerSuite includes both BillBoard, the AEE dashboard for managing state legislation, and DocketDash, the AEE dashboard for managing state public utility commission proceedings. Subscription required. is a national solar permitting database that provides information on permitting for solar in jurisdictions across the country. The database includes a variety of information, from average permit turnaround times, to information required to be included in the permit, to contact information for individual jurisdictions. You can browse the requirements for the Michigan cities included in the database here.
The U.S. Department of Energy is offering A Guide to Federal Finance Facilities Available for Energy Efficiency Upgrades and Clean Energy Deployment. The downloadable guide provides information about the various federal financing programs available for energy efficiency and renewable energy — making it easier for state, local and tribal leaders, along with their partners in the private sector, to find capital for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
The Department of Energy has offers free public access to accepted peer-reviewed manuscripts or published scientific journal articles from projects funded by the DOE within 12 months of publication.