This newsletter was originally published on October 13, 2017.
Michigan Stays the Course While Clean Power Plan Repealed
The Trump Administration announced this week the repeal of the Clean Power Plan. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt signed a proposed rule to repeal the Obama-era CPP, which was originally designed to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
In Michigan, the future of the grid continues to be governed by the planning process set out in the 2016 energy legislation (more on that below). The state’s two largest utilities, Consumers Energy and DTE Energy, have been steadily retiring coal plants and instead ramping up investment energy efficiency and renewable energy resources. DTE has stated that the repeal of the CPP will not change its plans to reduce carbon emissions 80% by 2050 and the CPP announcement comes at the same time as DTE Energy is officially opening their 48 MW solar farm in Lapeer and Consumers Energy is investing in a 24MW solar farm outside of Lansing .
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt says scrapping the Clean Power Plan will end the “war on coal.” However, economics, including falling renewable and natural gas prices, were the primary cause of declining coal use with environmental regulations responsible for only 3.5% of a 33% decline in coal production from 2011 to 2016 .
Rescinding the CPP will not happen overnight; the administration will need to gather public input first on an alternative rule, and then will likely face court challenges. Some sources say the administration may replace the CPP with a modest, facility-focused rule. However, industry leaders and environmental activists expect that the replacement may replacing the CPP for years.
The administration is already facing opposition following the announcement to repeal the CPP. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has also threatened a lawsuit over the Trump administration’s decision to repeal the CPP, and other attorneys general have indicated they are prepared to challenge the repeal as well, which Schneiderman called an example of “putting industry special interests” ahead of public health and safety and the environment.
This new analysis shows how each state will be affected by the repeal. The Trump administration’s proposal to boost coal and nuclear plants will drive up electricity costs in Wisconsin. Certain states are already taking it upon themselves to reduce carbon emissions. A Minnesota Republican lawmaker says he’s “proud that Minnesota companies and elected officials have taken it upon themselves to work to reduce carbon emissions without the heavy hand of the federal government demanding so.” And in Missouri and Iowa, market forces are already driving coal-plant retirements and boosting advanced energy.
Michigan is reaping the benefits of its investment in advanced energy. The EPA’s disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions from large facilities shows that Michigan’s emissions have gone down by 12% since 2012 while the state’s real GDP has increased by 8%. Michigan’s clean energy economy grew 5.3% to over 92,000 jobs between 2015 and 2016, almost three times faster than all other jobs in the state. And the state’s continued investment in advanced energy suggests that this trend will continue.
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch
The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) was active this week on many fronts that impact the state’s continued energy trajectory. The MPSC issued orders on a variety of topics ranging from integrated resource (IRP) and distribution planning to capacity demonstration. Continuing to seek stakeholder input, the commission opened cases to gather comments about IRP filing requirements, and for Commission staff and others to file testimony regarding future local electric capacity.
The MPSC gave guidance on Case No. U-18014 for DTE Electric and Case No. U-17990 for Consumers Energy regarding distribution planning. The order narrows the scope of the immediate utility distribution plans to safety and reliability leaving future opportunity to increase and enable the development of cost-effective solutions and non-wires alternatives (NWAs), facilitate distributed energy resources compensation models, accelerate innovation, and improve outcomes for all participants. This strategy will be built collectively through a stakeholder process the MPSC will convene. The Commission published an issue brief on the topic of Electric Distribution System Planning.
Finally, the MPSC working group developing the Distributed Generation Tariff meets again this Wednesday the 18th from 1-4 PM at the MPSC.
The Annual Energy Innovators Gala is less than a month away
The 5th Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala will take place on Thursday, November 9 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing, and everyone is invited!
Our annual gala recognizes businesses and policymakers who have gone above and beyond to grow Michigan’s advanced energy industry. Tickets are on sale now, and sponsorship opportunities also still available.
We thank our current sponsors:
Please contact Nicole Forward for more information about this event.
New and Renewing Members:
Mackinaw Power is developing new renewable energy projects to provide power for the Great Lakes at competitive prices. Mackinaw Power also uses its experience within the wind industry to work with a variety of companies in Michigan to increase the supply chain for renewable energy technologies in the Midwest.
In 2003, Mackinaw Power acquired the assets of Bay Windpower, which developed the Great Lakes’ first privately developed wind power project. Mackinaw Power plans to be a catalyst for sustainable economic growth, environmental stewardship, and energy security. We are working to build sustainable communities to provide clean, affordable wind powerby harvesting the area’s wind resources.
Mackinaw Power is investing in Michigan’s future generations. We look forward to working with you to create renewable power that protects our Great Lakes, public health, and farm land.
Michigan Energy News:
- The Christian Coalition of Michigan traveled to D.C. for the Conservative Clean Energy Summit.
- The chair of the House Energy Policy Committee, Representative Gary Glenn, is concerned with the Michigan Public Service Commission’s operations relating to recent energy contract cases being considered, and Representative Glenn hopes to schedule a hearing on the issue next month.
- MAE programs will save more than 4.2M kW/h of electricity per year.
- After its first year, Holland’s On-Bill Loan Program is enabling bigger efficiency upgrades.
- Federal regulators declined to get involved in a dispute over whether Consumers Energy must transfer ownership of transmission assets to a former subsidiary.
- The village of Sebewaing announced plans to make major power upgrades.
- DTE Energy unveils the largest utility-scale solar project in Michigan, a 48 MW project spread across 250 acres in Lapeer. The park is now powering 11,000 homes.
- Michigan’s second-largest solar power plant is under construction in Delta Township.
- The Energy Alliance Group published a blog on the hidden benefits of solar power.
- Officials in Ann Arbor are moving forward with plans to add solar panels at parking garages and surface lots to help power electric vehicle charging stations.
- A blade broke off of a wind turbine in Sigel Township, though no injuries are reported.
- The Union of Concerned Scientists released a report identifying 2.6 GW of “uneconomic” coal plants in Midwest.
- Michigan businesses are benefitting from energy efficient lighting funding.
- A report from The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute found both battery-powered and plug-in hybrids are capable of meeting the daily travel needs of most drivers, but the country still needs at least twice as many charging ports.
News from Washington:
- The U.S. House of Representatives passed a budget resolution would allow for oil and gas drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Senate’s budget framework includes a similar provision.
- The U.S. Senate passed a bill allowing 80,000 self-driving cars on the road. The bill was sponsored by Senator Gary Peters of Michigan and Senator John Thune of South Dakota.
- President Trump nominated coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to be deputy administrator at the EPA.
- Rep. Dingell reintroduced a bill that would promote investments in the research and development of cutting-edge technologies that improve energy efficiency in vehicles.
- Ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Senator Tom Carper of Delaware said he would oppose the President’s pick to be the top air regulator at the EPA.
- More than three dozen U.S. senators asked the EPA to scrap plans to lower biofuel requirements for oil refiners.
- While defending his plan to support coal and nuclear plants and remove subsidies for advanced energy, Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry said, “there is no free market in the energy industry.”
- A federal judge ordered the Department of Interior to immediately reinstate an Obama-era regulation limiting methane emissions from oil and gas production on federal lands, saying the department failed to give an explanation for delaying the rule.
Grid & Efficiency News:
- FERC ended an inquiry into the need to modify cybersecurity standards for control centers used to monitor and control bulk electric system.
- In response to an Energy Department proposal for coal and nuclear plants, grid operator MISO is conducting study to better define “resiliency.”
- Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk wants to help to rebuild Puerto Rico’s power grid.
- Twenty-eight utilities have committed to the RESTORE program, which is designed to strengthen the power grid through their collaborative efforts.
- At the launch session of NextGrid in Chicago, a variety of stakeholders began drawing a blueprint for the future of Illinois’ power grid, which will rely on a “platform” of services for customers.
- California’s energy agencies want to boost the state’s microgrid market.
- Eight solar manufacturers visited with federal and White House officials to lobby against potential tariffs on imported solar equipment. The dispute over potential tariffs has stalled clean-energy projects across the United States, as utilities and businesses hold off on buying solar power.
- Solar companies are banding together to help restore electricity to parts of storm-ravaged Puerto Rico as 90% of the island’s 3.5 million residents remain without power.
- ComEd’s community solar tariff takes effect today after receiving approval from Illinois regulators late last month.
- A northern Illinois county is drafting regulations for utility-scale solar projects, examining issues like decommissioning, setbacks and height limitations.
- An automobile dealership in Illinois is seeing the benefits of installing rooftop solar panels.
- Electric cooperatives in southeastern Indiana celebrate the opening of a new solar project that will produce enough power for 150 homes.
- A county environmental manager in Iowa says a program aiming to increase the number of private solar installations has “far exceeded our expectations.”
- Xcel Energy announces that 40 community solar projects are now online in Minnesota, passing the 100 MW threshold.
- Montana utility regulators approve a 15-year contract for a proposed $110 million solar farm west of Billings.
- At a ceremonial signing event, Utah leaders and solar advocates praise a net-metering compromise that preserves current rates for thousands of rooftop solar customers.
- Behind-the-meter solar makes financial sense in New York, according to a study on how long solar will take to reach grid parity in different cities.
- U.S. wind installations could surpass 10 GW a year, according to the CEO of Apex Clean Energy, one of America’s biggest wind installers.
- A study by California researchers finds that “the wind power available in the North Atlantic could be sufficient to power the world.”
- A panel in Delaware will recommend strategies for developing wind power and job opportunities in the offshore wind industry.
- Construction is completed on a 139-turbine wind project in central Illinois.
- Indiana lawmakers debate whether to enact statewide regulations for siting wind turbines.
- With pricey new transmission lines needed to expand wind development in Maine, grid regulators and industry players from all over New England are asking federal regulators to let them cluster projects together to lower costs.
- A wind energy boom in Nebraska is sparking resistance from rural landowners and lawmakers.
- A 150 MW wind project is planned in southeast North Dakota.
- The developer of a proposed wind project in northeast South Dakota says opposition so far has been “very, very light.”
- The Department of Energy is investing nearly $1.5 million in two projects that will help make biofuel out of seaweed.
- U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa says public input could help deter the EPA from making changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard, following backlash from members of the biodiesel industry.
- Researchers at a facility in Missouri say sorghum could provide a better alternative than the corn-based ethanol that dominates today’s domestic supply chain.
- A geothermal installation at a Minneapolis, Minnesota, church is drawing interest as a clean energy option for other churches in the state.
- Researchers in Duluth, Minnesota, are developing a coal substitute made from roasted wood.
Fossil Fuel & Nuclear News:
- OPEC may need to take “extraordinary” steps to sustain the recovery of the oversupplied oil market into 2018, according to Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo.
- About 78% of gas production and almost 93% of oil output from rigs and platforms in the Gulf of Mexico were closed Sunday in the wake of Hurricane Nate, according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
- North Carolina’s DEQ rejected environmental plans for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which is the first decision on the controversial project from any of the three states it would traverse.
- Vistra Energy Corp will close its Monticello plant in East Texas in January, due in part to renewable energy and the low price of natural gas. The 1,800 MW power plant, which opened more than 40 years ago, is one of the largest coal-powered plants in Texas.
- A plan by the Trump administration to rescue uneconomic coal plants has done little to ease the pall of anxiety hanging over two Ohio River counties.
- SCANA Corp. is facing another lawsuit from shareholders who say the state-owned utility was not forthcoming about problems with its Summer nuclear project in South Carolina. This comes as former Santee Cooper executives say there’s still a possibility the Summer plant could be completed.
- The trend of retiring nuclear plants will test how well funding levels match decommissioning cost estimates.
Technology & Market News:
- Honeywell plans to spin off non-core assets and create at least two new publicly listed companies, according to sources. Honeywell is considering spinning off its turbochargers, part of its aerospace business, which produces components that improve vehicle performance and energy efficiency.
- Michigan EIBC member company Invenergy, North America’s largest privately-held renewable energy company, today announced it received Oracle’s 2017 Sustainability Innovation Award.
- Facebook will invest $750 million to open a new data center in eastern Virginia that’s powered entirely by renewable energy. Dominion Energy will install solar facilities in the state to power the center.
- The International Energy Agency expects global renewable electricity capacity to rise 43% by 2022, with the U.S. being the second-largest renewables growth market due to tax incentives and state-level policies.
Advanced Lighting News:
- The Department of Energy published its annual Solid-State Lighting (SSL) R&D plan.
- LEDs boost the automotive lighting market.
Vehicle & Mobility News:
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is reconsidering its final rule regarding Corporate Average Fuel Economy civil penalties.
- According to analysts, utilities need to start planning for the impacts of electric vehicles on the grid sooner rather than later.
- Amazon received a patent for drones that can charge electric vehicles, which may help drivers get power when they can’t make it to a charging station.
- Tesla is unveiling of its big rig truck in mid-November, later than originally planned, because the company is “deep in production hell” for its Model 3 electric car.
- The Boeing-backed startup Zunum Aero is working on a 12-seat, hybrid-electric aircraft that can fly about 700 miles, and it could be put into commercial service within five years.
- An automotive supplier plans to invest $1 billion in its Tennessee facility to meet the growing demand for electric vehicle parts.
- Governors from seven western states pledged to expand an EV charging network in the region.
- Manufacturers are installing more charging stations around the country with increasingly shorter charge times for electric vehicles.
- California’s governor signs a dozen bills to boost the use of zero- and low-emissions vehicles, including an extension of incentives for low-income residents to buy electric vehicles.
- Virginia’s governor is seeking proposals to create a statewide electric vehicle charging network.
- Some groups in North Dakota are advocating increasing the state’s fuel tax to fund road and bridge upgrades.
Michigan Energy Events:
Michigan EIBC and Apex Clean Energy, along with CMS Energy, invite you to the 21st Century “Clean Energy Economy: Crossing Traditional Boundaries” panel discussion on October 24 from 6:30-7:30pm at 161 Anspach Hall in Mt. Pleasant. The event is sponsored by Central Michigan University. This event is free and open to the public, and no RSVPs are needed.
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 Projects, Personal 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.
The Michigan Agency for Energy’s Energy Services Coalition’s 2017 Leadership in Energy Efficiency Awards is scheduled for November 1 in Lansing. Representative Beth Griffin will be the Keynote Speaker and will highlight new legislation regarding energy project financing. Attendees will also hear from the award recipients about their Energy Savings Performance Contract experience, and lunch will be provided. Register here.
The 5th Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala will take place on Thursday, November 9 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing. This annual gala recognizes those businesses and policymakers who have done the most to grow the Michigan advanced energy industry. Tickets are on sale now, with sponsorships also available. Thank you to our Megawatt sponsor Cypress Creek Renewables and our Kilowatt Sponsor Invenergy. Please contact Nicole Forward for more information.
National Energy Events:
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 the Midwest Energy Research Consortium (M-WERC) at our 2017 Microgrids member meeting and technical conference on October 19 in Milwaukee, WI. Learn more and register to attend by clicking 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.
Check out ARPA-E’s “High Efficiency High-Temp Modular Power” workshop, October 19-20, in Washington, D.C. The workshop will focus on the development of next generation of sub-megawatt (<1 MW) high efficiency modular electricity generation systems by taking advantage of recent advancements in process intensification, materials, and manufacturing techniques. For more information, please visit the workshop page on the ARPA-E website.
EUCI announced its event, “Fundamentals of Distributed Resource (DER) System Planning” for October 23-24 in San Francisco, California. Through presentations and panel discussions, attendees will have the opportunity at this course to consider how distributed energy resources (DER) are changing utility and power industry norms. Register here.
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 markets, 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.
Mark your calendar for the 5th National Conference on Next Generation Demand Response on February 7-8, in San Diego, California. For more information, and to register, visit the event website here.
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 www.michigan.gov/energylegislation.
World Resources Institute recently published an Implementation Guide for Utilities, outlining best practices in designing renewable energy projects to meet large energy customers’ needs.
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.
The Energy Department’s Solar Energies Technology Office will award $62 million in grants for early-stage research into concentrated solar power.