Newsletter: Michigan Utilities Exceed 10 Percent Renewable Standard – Now What?

This newsletter was originally published on February 12, 2016. 

Report: Michigan Utilities Exceed 10 Percent Renewable Standard – Now What?

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) recently released its annual report on the progress of PA 295 of 2008, the state’s renewable portfolio standard. The standard mandated that 10 percent of Michigan’s energy come from renewable sources by the year 2015. According to the report, 9.1 percent of Michigan’s energy was supplied by renewables in 2014, and it’s expected that over 10 percent was actually supplied by renewables by the end of 2015.

The report also details the dramatic cost declines for renewable energy and the elimination of the charges added to pay for renewables. Three Michigan utilities – including Consumers Energy and DTE Energy – have completely eliminated their renewable energy charges, reflecting the dramatic cost declines associated with renewable energy. The report notes that the most recent renewable energy power purchase agreement approved by the MPSC was for $45/ MWh – cheaper than any other source of energy generation.

In addition, the MPSC report concluded that renewable projects developed by independent power producers were cheaper than those developed by the utilities – and as noted in the following chart, that independent power producers outbid utilities every single year since the passage of PA 295 when comparing apples to apples!

Weighted Average Cost Comparison
Commission Approval Company Owned Power Purchase
2015 $50.00 $45.00
2014 N/A N/A
2013 $55.95 $50.04
2012 $52.50 $49.24
2011 $67.16 $60.90
2010 $104.00 $97.33
2009 N/A $115.00


Other highlights from the report include the fact that there are now over 1,500 MW of utility-scale wind projects operating in Michigan, with an additional 484 MW of new wind generation expected to begin operating by the end of. Several large solar projects are also under development and planned to begin commercial operation during 2016. The combined cost for renewable energy and energy optimization is $37.43 per MWh, less than any new generation, including new natural gas combined cycle plants, when compared to the Energy Information Administration plant costs for 2014.

Unfortunately, despite the compelling data included in this report, the RPS is currently fulfilled, with no additional requirement to add renewable generation to the state’s energy mix. In addition, the recent stay on the Clean Power Plan – and the Governor’s decision to pause state planning for complying with the EPA carbon regulations (see story below) – adds new uncertainty to the energy landscape. While the State Legislature is considering overhauling the state’s energy policy, neither the House nor Senate version currently under discussion would extend the successful RPS going forward. In addition, despite the clear data showing that projects developed by independent power producers are consistently less costly than similar projects developed by the utilities, there is no provision in either the House or Senate plan that would maintain market access for independent developers.

Michigan EIBC strongly believes that the best policy framework is the one already in place – a workable requirement that has spurred substantial new renewable generation at costs well below any other generation source, providing clear benefits to Michigan ratepayers. We will continue to make sure the voices of our member companies are heard in this debate, and to push for strong standards and market access that has proven to be successful over the last eight years in Michigan. Want to make sure your company has a seat at the table? Join Michigan EIBC today!


Snyder Pauses Clean Power Plan Activities, Joins Group of Clean Energy Governors

The Snyder Administration this week announced it was suspending its development of a State Implementation Plan for the Clean Power Plan in the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent decision to stay the rule pending ongoing litigation over the merits of the regulations. Prior to the stay, the state was preparing to submit a plan by September of this year detailing how it planned to comply with the Clean Power Plan. Even with this decision, however, the state suggested it would still complete modeling currently underway and would continue to update the state’s compliance website with new data.

Even as the state was announcing this decision, however, Governor Snyder was included as one of 17 bipartisan governors from across the country to back a new “Governor’s Accord for a New Energy Future.” Snyder joins a range of other governors, including Republicans Brain Sandoval of Nevada and Terry Branstad of Iowa and Democrats Jerry Brown of California and Dannel Malloy of Connecticut, in an agreement that argues that “[e]xpanding energy efficiency and renewable energy in a cost-effective way strengthens our states’ economic productivity, reduces air pollution and avoids energy waste.  Integrating more of these clean energy sources into our electricity grids can also improve the flexibility and stability of these grids.  Promoting energy savings through efficiency and conservation programs is the fastest, most reliable and often cheapest way to meet our energy needs.”

In joining the Accord, Governor Snyder noted that “states across the country have shown leadership and used different tools to improve their energy in ways that work at home for their residents. In Michigan, ratepayers have saved more than $4 billion by reducing energy waste. This partnership will help us further adapt and identify best practices as we work to make energy more affordable, reliable and environmentally protective.”


Michigan Energy Clips

Crain’s wrote a piece on the PSC report highlighting utilities exceeding the RPS.

The Lansing State Journal has a story about the Board of Water and Light’s decision to continue with the closure of the Eckert Power Plant, despite the SCOTUS stay on the Clean Power Plan.

The Big Rapids Daily quotes Michigan EIBC President Liesl Clark in their story on the recent stay on the Clean Power Plan.

WHMI has a story quoting Michigan EIBC member, Mark Cryderman of The Green Panel, about Michigan’s potential to lead the solar industry.

State Senator Mike Shirkey (R-Jackson) has an opinion piece in the Detroit News about the Clean Power Plan.


National Energy Clips

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died on Saturday, whose vacancy on the court now adds a layer onto many cases that were going to be heard before the court, including the Clean Power Plan.

Utility Dive has a feature on the 8 trends shaping the future of the grid.

The California State Treasurer announced plans to build a full-fledged “green bond” market.

Pennsylvania utilities are initiating a time-of-use pilot this summer that would include 250,000 ratepayers, Utility Dive reports.

The Pennsylvania Utility Commission approved allowing utility customers with small solar and other distributed generation (DG) systems to produce up to 200% of their annual electricity consumption and receive retail rate electricity prices for electricity they send back to the grid.

Utility Dive has a story on Austin Energy developing more solar plus storage.

Cleantechnica has a piece on how 69% of new generation in 2015 came from renewables.

Utility Dive also has a piece on how utility executives see the future of the industry.  

Michigan Energy Events
The annual IPU Michigan Forum on Economic Regulatory Policy will take place Friday, February 26 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing.

SAVE THE DATE: The 4th Annual Michigan EIBC Members Meeting will take place on Monday, April 25 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing. Additional information and registration will be available soon.

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.