Newsletter: MPSC Report Examines Capacity Issues

This newsletter was originally published on August 1, 2016.

MPSC Report Examines Capacity Issues
In January, the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) opened a case (U-17992) to investigate the electric utilities’ plans to ensure reliability through 2020. The regulated utilities responded with their own analysis of their particular situation in the spring. On June 29th, MPSC staff filed a report with the Commissioners that then closed the case on July 22nd with a summary of the impact of the current capacity issues on the state.

The report concludes that upon review of the next 5 years of supply and a range of other factors – including transmission, retail open access, changes in the wholesale market, interconnection of merchant plants – Michigan could see a shortfall in capacity at peak delivery times, if certain circumstances are met. The scenario that would create concern would require the closing of Michigan plants coupled with closing of generation outside of the state that could be delivered to meet electricity demand in the state, at which point in a peak period, Michigan may not have needed generation in state or be able to import supply.

As the MPSC staff memorandum detailed, advanced energy solutions can play a critical role in supporting future energy challenges. Specifically, resources including demand response and dynamic peak pricing are ways to “quickly respond to bulk electric system needs and potentially delay future capital investment in new generation.” Michigan EIBC filed comments in support of strategies for education, outreach, marketing, and customer support of time of use rates and dynamic peak pricing. According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) assessment of demand response potential, Michigan has more than 1,200 MW of potential peak reductions.

We will continue to closely monitor the capacity discussion taking place among regulators, utilities, and policymakers, and ensure that advanced energy solutions continue to play a central role in Michigan’s strategy going forward.


Report from the Michigan Energy Providers Conference
The Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council co-sponsored the Michigan Energy Providers Conference last week at Crystal Mountain. Speakers included Chairman Sally Talberg of the MPSC, Director Greg White of NARUC, Director Valerie Brader of the Michigan Agency for Energy, Chairman Mike Nofs of the Senate Energy and Technology Committee and Chairman Aric Nesbitt of the House Energy Policy Committee.

The primary themes were understanding the Governor’s new 21st Century Infrastructure Commission, discussion on the MPSC’s electricity supply report (see above), and how utility business models are evolving. The panels on transmission and generation both talked about how to make decisions for the future (big bets versus incremental change) and the need to decide what to encourage. Many advanced energy issues were carried throughout the discussions from how to value distributed energy resources to expansion of demand response to technical grid improvements like volt-VAR distribution upgrades.

On the topic of legislation, all of the policymakers present emphasized the desire to get something passed and signed this year. There was a reported focus from Governor Snyder on energy as a primary issue for the anticipated lame-duck session following the November elections.


New/Renewing Members

Newman Consulting Group

Newman Consulting Group (NCG), a Lean and Green Michigan and Rebuild Michigan® Partner, a DTE Energy and Michigan Saves Trade Ally, and an EPA Energy Star® Partner, works with architects, engineers, building owners and contractors in Michigan and throughout the world to design and build more energy-efficient buildings to LEED®, Energy Star® and other sustainable guidelines. NCG also helps commercial and industrial building owners save money and reduce negative impacts on the environment. Through energy audits and retrofitting existing buildings NCG helps buildings use less energy – and save money – while maintaining or improving the indoor air quality and enhancing the health, comfort and productivity of the building occupants. Services include: • LEED® Certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) • Energy Audits – Level I, Level II and Level III • Energy Star® Certification • Re-Commissioning and Retro-Commissioning • Tax Deductions and Credits • Cost Recovery/Tax Benefits • Project Management • Design Assistance • Engineering Reports • PACE Project Management (Property Assessed Clean Energy)


Michigan Energy News

Consumer’s Energy is planning to install more than 800 electric vehicle charging stations, drawing excitement and questions about fairness, Midwest Energy News reports.

ACHRN News has a story on Public Acts 119-123, which allow local units of governments to use tax-exempt lease purchase agreements for energy conservation. The story including quotes from Michigan EIBC member Johnson Controls.

The EPA is recognizing GM’s Chevy Bolt plant in Lake Orion, Michigan, for their use of onsite renewables. Reliable Plant has more.

There is a dispute over the taxable value of wind turbines in Tuscola County, Tuscola County Advertiser reports.

The Almer Township Planning Commission has recommended several changes to the local zoning ordinance on wind turbines, Tuscola County Advertiser reports.

Cargill Salt in St. Clair is a finalist for one of the Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards for their energy savings work, the Times Herald reports.

The Heller Machine Tools plant in Troy, Michigan got 100 percent of their near $1 million retrofit financed through PACE, C and G News reports.

Ralph Bergelin in Saginaw is one of the latest residents to go solar through Solarize Michigan, Mlive reports.

Energy Retrofits in Alpena County’s governmental buildings have exceeded projected savings since the project started in 2014, Alpena News reports.


National Energy News

Minnesota Power released a request for proposals (RFP) for up to 300 MW of new wind power, and announced a future RFP for up to 300 MW of utility-scale solar, both hoping to maximize use of wind production and solar investment tax credits.

The Port of Los Angeles will be the site of a solar-storage pilot program, with the hopes of boosting industrial efficiency, Utility Dive reports.

Elon Musk suggested that Tesla could also sell grid-battery services to support utility management of the grid, Fortune reports.

The Dept. of Energy announced a total of $11 million to be given to 16 research and development projects in solar photovoltaic and concentrating solar power.

Duke Energy Renewables Control Center has surpassed a 3.5 GW threshold, Power Magazine reports.

FirstEnergy reported a $1.1 billion second quarter loss, due largely to their coal-fired plants, Utility Dive reports.

A new report highlights the growth of grid-connected battery storage, comparing it to the growth of solar.

NV Energy has proposed to grandfather all existing rooftop solar users into the state’s former net metering rules, Utility Dive reports.


Michigan Energy Events
Michigan State University Extension will be hosting a tour of West Michigan dairy farms utilizing energy efficiency and renewable energy to save on electricity costs on August 17
The U.S. Department of Energy’s CHP Technical Assistance Partnership is hosting a half-day session on Combined Heat and Power Opportunities for Michigan Healthcare Providers on Monday, August 22 at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Detroit.
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 fifth annual Heating the Midwest with Renewable Biomass Conference will be held October 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
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.