Newsletter: Michigan Senate Continues Deliberation On SB 437 and 438

This newsletter was originally published on May 16, 2016.

Michigan Senate Continues Deliberation On SB 437 and 438

The Michigan Senate did not meet last week, after two weeks of committee hearings on SB 437 and 438, legislation that would rewrite Michigan’s energy laws. The amendments make a number of changes to the bills as introduced, including elements involving the state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, creating a new integrated resource planning (IRP) process, changing the retail open access provisions, and additional changes to Michigan’s net metering laws.

After two weeks of testimony, including testimony from Michigan EIBC member businesses, Senate Energy and Technology Committee Chair Mike Nofs (R-Battle Creek) has stated he believes he has the votes to move the legislation out of committee.

Some of the changes in these amendments include:

  • Repealing the energy optimization (EO) program for electric utilities effective January 1, 2019 and replacing it with a new IRP process;
  • Repealing the renewable portfolio standard (RPS) and replacing it with a 30% goal for renewable energy and energy efficiency – despite acknowledgement from Governor Snyder’s office that such a goal would not add additional renewable generation;
  • Replacing the current net energy metering program with a buy all-sell all model where all energy consumed (including that generated on sight) would be purchased from the utility at retail rates, and all energy produced would be sold to the utility at the variable supply cost;
  • Makes some changes to the retail open access program, including additional costs for those who choose to purchase their electricity from an alternative electric supplier (AES);
  • Creates a new IRP process where utilities would submit plans to be reviewed by the MPSC in a contested case, and where any investments covered in the IRP would be deemed reasonable and prudent;
  • Broadens the scope and adds funding for the Utility Consumer Participation Board;
  • Amends the utility code of conduct to allow utilities greater flexibility in entering non-regulated market sectors.

While some of the changes made in the amended bills are positive, Michigan EIBC remains concerned that the legislation would repeal both the Energy Optimization and Renewable Portfolio Standards, undermine the economics of net energy metering, and reduce the ability for advanced energy firms to offer their technologies and services in the Michigan market.


2nd Annual Combined Heat and Power Conference Held at Oakland University

Business and policy leaders met at Oakland University (OU) in Rochester Tuesday, May 10 for the 2016 Michigan CHP Conference.  The daylong event explored the use of combined heat and power (CHP) to increase energy efficiency by reducing energy waste, ultimately saving money for those who deploy it. Michigan EIBC was proud to co-host the conference with the OU School of Engineering and Computer Science.

Featured were presentations by Graeme Miller of the Energy Resources Center at the University of Illinois, Chicago; Lauren Ray of GEM Energy; and Dr. Fred Jones, owner of Cogen Designs.  Conferees also had the opportunity to tour OU’s state-of-the-art Central Heating Plant CHP installation and Engineering Center.

Also known as cogeneration, CHP systems generate electricity and useful thermal energy in a single, integrated package. Heat that is normally wasted in conventional centralized power generation is recovered as useful energy from on-site CHP, avoiding losses that would otherwise be incurred from the separate generation of heat and power. While the conventional method of producing centralized electric power has a typical efficiency of 30 to 40 percent, CHP systems can operate at overall efficiencies in excess of 80 percent through the recovery and beneficial use of the otherwise rejected waste heat.

The Michigan CHP Conference featured sponsor was Opterra Energy Services.  Co-sponsors included: Consumers Energy, DTE Energy, GEM Energy, Invenergy LLC, Michigan Agency for Energy, Michigan CAT, Peaker Services, Sustainable Partners LLC, Trane Building Advantage, WW Williams and 5 Lakes Energy LLC.


Michigan Energy News Clips

The Groundworks Shines Initiative is working to make going solar an easier option, 9&10 news has the story. Michigan EIBC’s sister organization, the Institute for Energy Innovation, is running a similar campaign out of the Great Lakes Bay region, Solarize Michigan.

There is now a lawsuit between Exelon and Bridgehampton Township in Sanilac County over their township planning commission not holding a hearing over a permit application for a proposed 68-turbine wind farm, Times-Herald reports.

Nearly 100 individuals and organizations have taken a public position on SB 437 and 438, though the Michigan Chamber is not yet one of them. They organization continues to work behind the scenes, MIRS news reports.

The Lansing Board of Water and Light (BWL) heard recommendations from their integrated resource planning committee on how to replace the soon to be closed Eckert Plant. The plan calls for increased renewables and natural gas, and is an interesting case study of the IRP process. Read more at Midwest Energy News.

Peter Milojevic, president of Midland Cogeneration Venture, penned an op-ed in Mlive supporting SB 919, a bill to adopt competitive bidding for future capacity.


National Energy News Clips

The Senate passed a $37.5 billion water and energy appropriations package. The legislation increases funding by $355 million from 2016, the Hill reports.

The United States is still the best renewable energy market for investors, according to EY’s latest Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index (RECAI), North American Wind Power reports.

Around 60 U.S. companies, including Facebook and Microsoft, are creating the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance. They will work to develop 60 GW of renewables by 2025, Utility Dive reports.

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the state’s green bank transactions will generate $220 million in advanced energy projects.

Quartz has the list of global companies powered 100 percent by renewables, including Michigan company Steelcase.

The U.S. Energy Information Association released their projection that world energy use will increase 48 percent by 2040.

The nation’s fastest-growing job is in the wind industry, outpacing even health care and technology, Bloomberg reports.


Michigan Events
The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association is hosting the Michigan Energy Fair on June 24-25 at the Ingham County Fairgrounds in Mason. This year’s Fair also boasts the Great Lakes Emergency Preparedness Expo and the Sustainable Living Summit 2016.

The 2016 Michigan Energy Providers Conference will take place on July 27-29 at Crystal Mountain Resort and Spa in Thompsonville. Michigan EIBC is a Gold sponsor for this event.

National Events
ACORE is holding a webinar, “Leveraging Tax Equity: The Latest on the Department of Treasury’s new PTC Guidance,” May 18 at noon.

AWEA’s annual WINDPOWER event will take place May 23-26 in New Orleans.
Intersolar North America will take place July 12-14 in San Francisco.
Solar Power International is scheduled for September 12-15 in Las Vegas.
The Battery Show, collocated with the Critical Power Expo and Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo, will be held in Novi from September 13-15.

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.