This solar newsletter was originally published on April 20, 2018.
MPSC Adopts Inflow/Outflow DG Tariff
The Commission approved the staff’s proposal of an “Inflow/Outflow” billing mechanism, which would determine a customer’s bill on the basis of the inflow, or energy the customer drew from the grid and outflow, or energy customer sent to the grid. The staff’s proposed mechanism uses the full retail rate for inflow value and the utility’s avoided cost for outflow value. The Commission is requiring that each utility file a DG tariff using this mechanism in rate cases submitted after June 1, 2018. However, each utility will also be allowed to file its own proposed tariff. This could create a patchwork of DG tariffs across the state’s utility territories.
Michigan EIBC has been engaged as a stakeholder in this process during the development of the 2016 legislation and over the last year at the MPSC. Along with several EIBC member companies, we argued against many aspects of the staff proposal in comments. Michigan EIBC consistently emphasized that the Commission needed to complete a more robust cost of service study based on data from all customer classes.
What this means for the industry is still uncertain. The Commission ordered that customers enrolled in net metering before a utility’s final DG tariff is approved in a rate cases filed after June 1, 2018 will remain in the net metering program for 10 years. The Commission also clarified that an “enrolled” customer is one who has submitted a complete application to a utility.
- House Energy Committee Chairman Republican State Representative Gary Glenn and Democratic State Representative Yousef Rabhi issued a joint statement responding to the Michigan Public Service Commission’s order to replace the existing net metering system with a distributed generation tariff, saying that the “avoided cost” rate would be much less than the retail rate consumers would be charged. Republican State Representative Tom Barrett also released a statement calling the decision “short-sighted.”
- Midwest Energy News reports “Michigan to replace net metering program with avoided-cost tariff” quoting Liesl Eichler Clark, president of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council. Clark said the decision will create uncertainty for customers and installers. “I see this as complicated, unfair and costly to the industry,” Clark said, noting that the new rate will vary depending on the local utility.
- Headlines range from Michigan Nix Net Metering to Michigan Dismantles Net Metering to MPSC approves utilities’ request for lower reimbursements for solar roof customers.
- After the Michigan Tax Tribunal ruled that cities can raise your property taxes for adding solar panels, advocates argue that solar panels should be exempt from property taxes.
- Michigan EIBC member company Hemlock Semiconductor is the only U.S. supplier of polysilicon to the semiconductor industry. The company is still recovering from lost jobs and revenue after 2012 tariffs imposed on Chinese solar manufacturers.
- Opposition is growing against planned net metering changes in Michigan.
- Flushing Community School District is expected to save $45,000 annually with a 1.1 MW solar project.
- The Michigan Renewable Schools Program announced the My Solar School Contest.
- Becky Stanfield of Vote Solar wrote an opinion column in the Detroit News about DTE Energy’s proposed natural gas plant, arguing that renewable energy projects are better for Michigan than more natural gas.
- Michigan EIBC member company Geronimo Energy proposed a 20 megawatt solar project in southeastern Michigan.
- The Detroit Zoo installed a 16-by-16-foot flower-shaped solar energy system.
- Solar projects could be good for local farmers.
- Solar installations between 2018 and 2022 are predicted to be 13% lower than original estimates due to new tariffs on imported solar modules and changes in federal tax laws.
- Solar panel manufacturers had until March 16 to apply for exemptions from new solar import tariffs that went into effect in February. The CEO of SunPower says the company will lay off workers and forego investments in U.S. solar manufacturing if the Trump administration doesn’t grant it an exemption from import tariffs. At the same time, Chinese solar manufacturer JinkoSolar could win incentives to build the first U.S. panel plant since Trump imposed tariffs on imported solar modules.
- The U.S. refused a request to compensate the European Union for tariffs on imported solar modules, opening the door for retaliatory measures.
- Some advanced energy advocates are worried that FERC may use the minimum offer price rule to gut state-supported solar in their decision to approve ISO New England’s new market pricing proposal.
- The DOE has been steadily chipping away at the agency’s “SunShot Initiative” program. However, the Department will offer $105 million in funding for about 70 solar research and development projects.
Across the Country
- Global solar installations are expected to reach 104 gigawatts in 2018, according to a new report.
- Solar installations by U.S. corporations exceeded 3 GW in 2017, according to a new report.
- A paper published in Energy and Environmental Science argues that wind and solar can power most of the United States.
- The number of solar projects in Wisconsin is continuing to expand. The Southeast solar market is growing as well, as evidenced by developments in Virginia, Florida and South Carolina. And Texas’ solar power capacity is expected to nearly double in 2018.
- Mayors from 180 U.S. cities wrote a letter calling for increased solar energy use, saying communities “need to act quickly to continue our progress toward renewable energy.”
- Crowdfunding campaigns are helping nonprofits — which can’t take advantage of federal tax credits — access funding for solar projects.
- Michigan EIBC member companies NextEra Energy and Geronimo Energy made Greentech Media’s list of the top 15 developers, engineers and other companies that make up the downstream U.S. commercial solar industry.
- Michigan EIBC member company Sunrun is expanding while adding revenue streams like energy storage and grid services.
- Small solar cells are making it easy to integrate PV into anything.
- An Arizona utility and Tesla have reached a settlement in an antitrust lawsuit over solar installation fees.
- A report finds California’s residential PACE program expanded the state’s solar market by 12%.
- Hawaiian Electric will break ground on a 20 MW solar facility that is expected to produce the lowest-cost renewable energy in the state.
- Michigan EIBC member company Sunrun is opening an office in Illinois. The company said the reason for the move is state incentives for distributed solar generation.
- The Future Energy Jobs Act is spurring solar development in southern Illinois, an area traditionally known for coal mining.
- Funding for an Illinois program aimed at developing solar energy for low-income residents is safe for the first year.
- An Illinois Commerce Commission ruling will allow electric co-op customers to receive a cash-back incentive for installing solar panels.
- An Illinois county delayed the approval of three solar projects to address “agricultural community concerns.”
- Michigan EIBC member company Geronimo Energy officials say a planned solar project in western Illinois will not affect property values.
- County officials west of Chicago approve plans for a 7.4-acre solar project that will power a local courthouse.
- Officials dedicate what they say is the largest solar installation for an Indiana school district.
- A Purdue University researcher is developing solar energy structures that allow sunlight to pass through to crops underneath.
- Construction begins on a 3-acre, $8 million solar project at a jail and health department outside of Indianapolis.
- Iowa lawmakers advanced a bill that could lead to fees on solar customers.
- A Kentucky House committee approved an amended bill that would let state regulators decide how much money residential solar panel owners would be paid for the extra energy they generate.
- A new cost-benefit analysis finds that a Montana utility is paying rooftop solar customers triple the value for energy they send back to the grid.
- Campbell Soup Co. has completed installation of a 4.4 MW solar system at its Camden, New Jersey headquarters.
- The largest community solar power project in New York, a 2.7 MW solar array in Sullivan County, has been completed and will power 350 homes and small businesses.
- A connection between locally sourced clean energy and food is helping to drive support for solar projects in an Ohio city.
- AEP Ohio awards $250,000 to Ohio University to research the economic benefits of solar deployment in southeastern Ohio.
- The University of Dayton plans a 1.26 MW solar project on campus.
- Chattanooga, Tennessee, is making plans to install a solar-battery microgrid at its municipal airport.
- Microsoft may be the largest corporate purchaser of advanced energy after it buys 315 MW of power from what is expected to be Virginia’s largest solar farm.
- A Brooklyn architect wants to install solar microgrids to power entire cities in Puerto Rico
Events to Watch:
EUCI invites you to the Utility-Scale Solar Power Plant Fundamentals conference on April 18 – 19 in Portland, Oregon. Register here.
You’re invited to a Michigan Energy Workshop on Wednesday, April 25 from 9am to 12:00pm at the Governmental Center Training Room in Traverse City. This workshop is hosted by the City of Traverse City and SEEDS. Learn more and register here.
Join solar & clean energy experts at the 5th annual Midwest Solar Expo & Smart Energy Symposium, April 30-May 2 in Minneapolis, MN. Exhibition, networking, solar farm visit, startup showcase, training, more. Register today!
Michigan EIBC’s Lobby Day is May 1 in Lansing. Register here!
Join Greentech Media for the 11th Solar Summit on May 1-2. Get 15% off with code ENN15.
You’re invited to present, advertise, exhibit, or sponsor at The Energy Fair, June 15-17 in Custer, Wisconsin. Learn more and register here.
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) invite you to Solar Power International, September 24-27, in Anaheim, California. Registration opens in spring of 2018 here.