Newsletter: Michigan SAVES Finances 1 MW of Solar as MPSC Looks at Utility Distribution Planning

This newsletter was originally published on July 28, 2017.

Michigan SAVES reaches 1 MW solar financing; commits to $1 billion in projects

Michigan SAVES, a clean energy financing program in Michigan (and Michigan EIBC member), reached 1 megawatt of solar development and announced plans for $1 billion in additional advanced energy projects over the next five to seven years.

Michigan SAVES was created in 2009 by a $6.5 million Michigan Public Service Commission grant. The company works to finance small-scale renewable energy and energy efficiency projects for homes and businesses.

Since June 2011, Michigan SAVES has helped finance installations at 132 homes and nine businesses, totaling $3.5 million in solar investment. In all, Michigan SAVES has been involved with roughly 8,600 projects totaling $102 million in advanced energy investment. This new announcement demonstrates the company’s continuing commitment to advanced energy.

MPSC to look at Distribution Planning
Over the next several weeks the Michigan Public Service Commission will take up the issue of distribution planning, following the submission of five-year distribution investment plans from DTE Energy and Consumers Energy. The plans were required as part of the Commission’s approval of rate cases from the two utilities earlier this year.

Successful distribution planning that integrates advanced energy technology can help utilities meet safety, reliability, and affordability requirements, increase transparency around utility distribution investments, increase efficiency around expenditures, and help to better integrate customer-owned distributed energy resources such as solar, combined-heat-and-power, and energy storage systems. Its success comes from facilitating utility communication, planning, sourcing, and data sharing processes.

This is critical because the ever-changing energy environment, when not confronted properly, can lead to instability. The energy industry is changing how it generates, distributes, consumes and stores energy. Furthermore, the environment of energy supply, demand, and delivery are shifting as well, with volatility around fossil fuel prices, wind and solar becoming cheaper than coal and gas, and consumers and increasingly seeking out advanced energy. As such, regulators need to change their planning, infrastructure, and revenue to stay afloat amidst constant changes. This includes incorporated distributed generation, demand response resources, storage and energy efficiency applications into their planning models.

New Members:

Hemlock Semiconductor Operations LLC has been a leader in polysilicon materials and technology for more than 50 years. Hemlock Semiconductor Group has more than half a century of experience and know-how in the development, production and global commercialization of polycrystalline silicon. Hemlock Semiconductor Group is a committed, reliable and proven supplier for your semiconductor or photovoltaics business. With expertise that has evolved since 1961, Hemlock Semiconductor Group has an edge in applying their application engineering to helping customers around the world solve today’s product and process challenges and identify tomorrow’s opportunities. Hemlock Semiconductor Group continues to celebrate and reaffirm their commitment to the safe, sustainable and reliable production of quality high-purity polysilicon for your products.

Renewing Members:

ITC Holdings Corp., the nation’s largest independent electricity transmission company, has two operating subsidiaries in Michigan: ITC Transmission and METC (collectively, ITC Michigan). The systems comprise 8,700 circuit miles of transmission line serving the majority of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. ITC’s focus on transmission and grid development drives operational excellence and delivers superior value for customers, communities and other stakeholders.

Varnum’s long-standing energy practice encompasses significant experience in conventional, alternative and renewable energy sources. It has been involved in energy legal issues for more than 35 years. Varnum helped organize the Energy Michigan trade association and are a founding member of the Michigan Renewable Energy Consortium. Varnum’s energy clients include: – Municipally-owned electric utilities – Co-generators and independent power producers – Biomass facilities, including waste-to-energy and wood-fired plants – Alternative energy projects, including wind farms, biomass, waste-to-energy, landfill gas, hydroelectric, and biodigesters – Oil & gas producers and transporters – Nuclear power plants – Trade associations – Investors and lenders – Customers and end-users – Manufacturers of energy-producing parts and equipment. Varnum’s project work includes utility scale cogeneration and exempt wholesale generators in excess of 1000 MW; alternative energy projects from 0.5 MW to 65 MW; and natural gas pipelines, production and utility scale storage facilities. Varnum has both the 40,000 foot perspective and the detailed knowledge of this highly-regulated industry to help you meet its clients energy goals in the new energy marketplace.

Michigan Energy News:

News from Washington:

National Grid & Efficiency News:

  • Clean energy groups are divided over the need for a proposed 125-mile, $500 million transmission line that would go through southwest Wisconsin.
  • The lead author and independent consultant on the highly anticipated DOE grid study that concluded that renewables help, rather than hurt, grid reliability says the report has not been influenced politically.
  • Hawaii regulators approved a utility’s plan to reach the state’s 100% renewable energy mandate five years ahead of schedule.
  • A startup led by researchers in Illinois and Michigan has created a hardware device that allows utilities to better manage the electricity distribution grid.

National Solar News:

National Wind News:

National Fossil Fuel News:

National Technology & Market News:

National Vehicle & Mobility News:

Michigan Energy Events:
The MPSC will host a technical conference on the future of electric vehicle charging on August 9 at the public service commission office, 7109 W. Saginaw Highway, Lansing. Subject matter experts interested in participating in a panel are asked to submit a letter of interest, resume and summary of expertise to Al Freeman at the commission offices or by e-mail to

SAVE THE DATE: 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.

National Energy Events:
JOIN REMOTELY: On July 31, 2017, Natalie Mims and Steven Schiller will present on a free public webinar Berkeley Lab’s recent report, Evaluation of U.S. Building Energy Benchmarking and Transparency Programs: Attributes, Impacts, and Best Practices. The report focuses on the 24 state and local jurisdictions that (as of Dec. 31, 2016) require owners of privately owned commercial buildings and multifamily buildings to comply with a benchmarking and transparency (B&T) policy. The report provides a summary of policy design and implementation characteristics, reports results and impacts for jurisdictions with B&T policies, and discusses opportunities for increasing the efficacy of B&T policies, as well as suggested areas for further research. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Building Technologies Office, funded the report.

Energy Storage North America will take place August 8-10 in San Diego. As the largest conference and expo for grid-connected energy storage in North America, Energy Storage North America brings together utilities, regulators, municipal leaders, project developers, investors, systems integrators, and commercial and industrial customers for top-tier networking and information sharing.

EUCI is hosting “Addressing Process and Technical Issues for Renewable and Distributed Energy Resources” August 14-15 in Chicago. The conference will serve as a forum for all entities involved in the interconnection process to review process and technical issues for interconnecting grid-scale renewable energy and Distributed Energy Resource (DER) projects. Panel sessions will feature the perspectives of distribution, developers, utilities, and system operators to share their expertise and discuss best practices for optimizing the interconnection process. Register here.

Mark your calendars for the Catalysts of the Climate Economy summit in Burlington, Vermont, September 6-8. This event will focus on ways to accelerate economic development for a low-carbon future. The event will feature speakers, round-table discussions, and other forums with entrepreneurs, investors, and thoughts leaders. Speakers include EIBC member company Generate Capital’s Jigar Shah; Danny Kennedy of the California Clean Energy Fund; Carol Browner, Former Climate and Energy Czar in the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy; and CEOs and leaders from Patagonia, Green Mountain Power, Stonyfield Yogurt, General Motors, Seventh Generation, Ben and Jerry’s, Fetzer Vineyards, Proterra, Generation Investment Management, and more! See the full speaker list here:

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 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. Register here.

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.

The Michigan Energy Office is offering rebates to eligible applicants to upgrade existing public streetlights with LED lights through the Exterior LED Lighting Rebate Program. The purpose of this program is to encourage energy waste reduction and promote community vitality by accelerating the transition to energy efficient LED lighting. MEO will match utility rebates up to $0.35/W reduced. Applicants with no utility rebate will be awarded at a rate of $0.35/W reduced. For more information or to apply, click here.