Newsletter: Michigan “Would Be Dark” Without Action of Energy Legislation

This newsletter was originally published on August 30, 2016.

Talberg: Michigan “Would Be Dark” Without Action of Energy Legislation

Michigan Public Service Commission Chair Sally Talberg told a meeting of the Michigan Senate Energy and Technology Committee last week that Michigan “would be dark” if the state does not pass legislation to address capacity and reliability issues. Talberg reviewed the Commission’s most recent five-year outlook, and told Committee members that by 2018 there may not be enough surplus energy in the Midcontinent Independent Service Operators (MISO) region to meet Michigan’s demands, due to the retirement of a number of older coal-fired plants. 

Despite this testimony, not everyone was convinced. Sen. Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake), a longtime supporter of retail open access, claimed the MPSC report was “ripe with people cherry picking pieces of information and then reframing them to advance their narrative.” The five-year outlook noted that Michigan’s Lower Peninsula is not expected to fall short on minimum reliability standards “for the foreseeable future.”

Committee members also signed off on the appointment of Rachel Eubanks to fill the remainder of MPSC Commissioner John Quackenbush’s term. Eubanks was the director of public finance for Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc, where she worked on municipal bond issues.

With only a few more scheduled session days in the year, Michigan EIBC will continue to pay attention to the legislative and regulatory discussion and keep you apprised.


Michigan Businesses Unite to Accelerate Advanced Energy Procurement

A group of leading companies headquartered in Michigan including General Motors (GM), Crystal Mountain, the Dow Chemical Company and Steelcase has established the Corporate Purchasers Roundtable to facilitate the expanded use of advanced energy resources among businesses and large energy users. The Corporate Purchasers Roundtable – spearheaded by Michigan EIBC – is focused specifically on identifying pathways that increase corporate advanced energy procurement in Michigan.

“The Corporate Purchasers Roundtable gives us a platform to drive market growth through utility engagement and policy and regulatory changes to unlock the benefits of advanced energy in Michigan,” said Rob Threlkeld, Global Manager for Renewable Energy at General Motors. “GM is interested in adding more advanced energy to its energy mix because it makes good business sense.”

According to a new Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) report by Meister Consultants Group, Inc. entitled Opportunities to Increase Corporate Access to Advanced Energy: A National Brief, Michigan ranks seventh for highest potential demand for corporate renewable energy nationally with an estimated potential of 12,300 megawatts (MW). In its first action, the Corporate Purchasers Roundtable filed comments in an MPSC proceeding involving DTE Energy’s proposal to establish a voluntary renewable energy pilot program.

You can read more about the Corporate Purchasers Roundtable here.


Tours Highlight Advanced Energy to Legislators and Michigan EIBC Members

Michigan EIBC members took advantage of a pair of recent opportunities to highlight energy innovation and deployment with two recent members-only tours. A number of state policymakers also participated in the tours, giving them the opportunity to see first-hand how advanced energy is unlocking new business opportunities, and giving Michigan EIBC members the chance to speak directly to influential lawmakers in an informal setting.

Last week, Michigan EIBC members joined Senators Margaret O’Brien (R-Portage) and Senator Tonya Schuitmaker and Representative Dave Maturen (R-Vicksburg) in touring Bell’s Brewery, showcasing how renewable energy and energy efficiency upgrades are cutting their electricity costs. The tour featured a demonstration of Bell’s anaerobic digester, which processes more than 100,000 gallons of wastewater daily, converting organic byproducts from the brewing process into heat and electricity. The combined heat and power (CHP) engine used in this process is made by Michigan CAT Power Systems, a Michigan EIBC member company, Michigan CAT Power Systems. Michigan CAT Power Systems is a provider of turnkey CHP systems and landfill power solutions.

That tour was followed by a visit earlier this week to Ventower Industries, a steel fabricator that specializes in utility-scale wind turbine towers. Ventower started in 2008 and now has more than 150 employees working from its Monroe facility. Michigan EIBC members were joined by Valerie Brader, Executive Director of the Michigan Agency for Energy, as well as Senator Dale Zorn (R-Ida) and Representative Bill LaVoy (D-Monroe).

If you would like to be included in future tours and other members-only events, it’s a great time to join Michigan EIBC today!


New/Renewing Members


ArborWind is commercializing the PT-180 wind turbine, which is a patented 60 kW vertical axis wind turbine.



LexTM3 LLC is a leading manufacturer of innovative power distribution and control systems for demanding markets, including entertainment, industrial and the military. The privately-owned company was formed in 2015 as a merger between Lex Products Corp, founded in 1989, and TM3 Systems Inc, founded in 2012. The company specializes in smart and conventional portable power systems including distribution boxes, cable assemblies, connectors, cable protectors and other products, designed to withstand rough use and harsh environments. LexTM3 is ISO 9001:2008 certified across its four U.S. manufacturing facilities and MIL-STD790 Complaint and AS9100 certified at its military facility in Davie, FL.


Michigan Saves

Michigan Saves is a nonprofit dedicated to making energy improvements easier for all Michigan energy consumers. To accomplish this, Michigan Saves makes affordable financing and other incentives available through partnerships with private sector lenders. We also authorize and monitor a network of contractors and recognize those with advanced training. Our current portfolio includes programs for residential, commercial, multifamily, and municipal customers, and supports energy efficiency, geothermal, and solar PV projects.


Michigan Energy News

Cherryland Electric Cooperative and supplier Wolverine Power announced a new plan for distributed solar power in the cooperative’s service territory.

Sandy Barauh of the Detroit Regional Chamber and Douglas Rothwell of Business Leaders for Michigan have a letter in yesterday’s Detroit News highlighting how Michigan’s position on the cutting edge of mobility.

The wind and solar industry could easily absorb displaced workers from the shrinking coal industry, according to a study from Michigan Tech University and Oregon State University.

SkySpecs, an Ann Arbor-based company, received a small business voucher from the Department of Energy for drone-based wind turbine inspection.

The Michigan Strategic Fund approved a matching grant Tuesday of $1 million for the Battery Fabrication and Characterization User Facility at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Lincoln Township in Huron County is developing their own zoning ordinance, delaying the county from establishing the wind overlay district.

The Times Herald editorial board expressed their support of wind power in Michigan’s thumb.

The Lansing State Journal editorial board is supporting the Board of Water and Light’s plan to have 40 percent of their energy come from renewables.

Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm will serve on Hillary Clinton’s transition team, should she win the general election, with a focus on energy, advanced manufacturing, and infrastructure, among other areas.


National Energy News

The Federal Trade Commission signed off on antitrust issues relating to Tesla’s purchase of SolarCity. The company still needs review of the purchase from the Securities and Exchange Commission and a vote of shareholders.

2016 is shaping up to be a record year for US renewable production, with generation topping previous years each month.

Michael Liebreich and Angus McCrone of Bloomberg New Energy Finance have a long piece exploring how the growth of electric vehicles will impact everything from auto supply chains and dealer networks to the electricity system and cities.

Voters in Florida yesterday approved a ballot measure to exempt solar and other distributed generation systems on homes and businesses from property taxes through 2037, a move that could help unlock solar leases in the Sunshine State. Up next is a November ballot initiative that would establish a constitutional right to own or lease solar equipment for generating power.

Massachusetts is developing a new solar incentive.

California utility Pacific Gas & Electric is proposing they build 7,600 electric vehicle-charging stations.

The median installed price of solar dropped between 5 and 12 percent in 2015, PennEnergy reports.

The White House has proposed a new rule to accelerate renewable energy deployment on public land.

Michigan Energy Events
The next Michigan EIBC Michigan Energy Forum networking event will take place Thursday, September 8 at Rockford Construction in Grand Rapids. The event also includes a tour of Rockford’s operations and affiliated enterprises, as well as a policy update and opportunities for networking. The event is free for Michigan EIBC members; $25 for non-members.

The US Department of Energy, with help from NextEnergy, the American Jobs Project and Michigan EIBC, is hosting their Manufacturing Impacts Through Energy and Commerce (MITEC) Bootcamp on Wednesday, September 14, at Next Energy. You can find out more and register here.

The fifth annual Heating the Midwest with Renewable Biomass Conference will be heldOctober 11-13 in Harris, Michigan at the Island Resort and Conference Center.

SAVE THE DATE: The 4th Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala will be held Thursday,November 10 in East Lansing.

National Events
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
The Next Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant cycle is now open, awarding grants for renewable energy projects in rural communities and agricultural areas. REAP is open to Agricultural Producers and Rural Small Businesses. Grants can be used for the purchase, installation, and construction of a Renewable Energy System or Energy Efficiency Improvement. Rural Small Business Projects must be located in a rural area with populations of 50,000 or less. The Agricultural Producer Projects can be located in rural or non-rural areas. REAP Grants provide a 25% cash reimbursement of the total system costs, with a maximum grant of $500,000 for Renewable Energy Systems and $250,000 for Energy Efficiency Improvements.

Applications for projects with Total Project Costs of $80,000 or less are accepted through Monday, October 31, 2016. Applications for projects with Total Project Costs greater than $80,000 are accepted through Monday, May 1, 2017.

The Application Templates and Forms are available at USDA Rural Development Offices or the National Website at: under Forms and 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.