Newsletter: New Report Shows Solar Jobs in Michigan Grew 48% in 2016

This newsletter was originally published on February 10, 2017.

New Report Shows Solar Jobs in Michigan Grew 48% in 2016

A new report from the Solar Foundation found that jobs in Michigan’s solar industry jumped by an impressive 48% from 2015 to 2016. During that time, Michigan solar companies added more than 1300 jobs, for a total Michigan solar workforce of 4,118. This positions Michigan second in the Midwest both in terms of growth rate and number of individuals employed in the solar industry, and Michigan now ranks 15th nationally in number of solar jobs, up three spots since 2015.


Growth Rate – 2015-16

Midwest Rank

Total Number of Solar Jobs

Midwest Rank

National Rank – 2016 (2015 Rank)






28 (30)






17 (14)






15 (18)






25 (22)






11 (11)






26 (26)

Nationally, the Solar Jobs Census 2016 reported that solar employment has nearly tripled since 2010 and was up 25% over 2015 – adding more than 21,000 jobs in 2015 for a total of more than 260,000 solar workers nationally. This is the fourth consecutive year of more than 20% national solar job growth, and last year one out of every 50 jobs created in the U.S. was in the solar industry. Notably, solar now employs twice as many people as the entire U.S. coal industry, and the same number as work in natural gas.

Michigan EIBC President Liesl Eichler Clark was quoted in number of articles highlighting the results and the continued solar jobs growth in Michigan. Michigan EIBC is a strong voice for the solar industry in Michigan, and will continue to represent the interests of our solar business members.


Registration Now Open for Michigan EIBC 5th Annual Member Meeting

Registration is now open for Michigan EIBC’s 5th Annual Member Meeting, which will take place on Wednesday, April 26 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing. (Note the new date.) This annual event brings together leaders in Michigan’s advanced energy industry, utility executives, policymakers, regulators, and others. Past speakers have included Congressman Mike Bishop (R-Mich.), MPSC Chairman Sally Talberg, Senate Energy Chair Mike Nofs (R-Battle Creek) Consumers Energy CEO Patti Poppe, Invenergy CEO Michael Polsky, and former CLEAResult CEO Glenn Garland. This year’s Annual Member Meeting will feature discussions on grid modernization and infrastructure, corporate procurement of advanced energy, and how energy, IT, and transportation are converging to create the new mobility industry, among many others. Keynote speakers and panel topics will be announced over the next several weeks.

In addition, sponsorship opportunities are also available. The Annual Member Meeting attracts a broad range of industry leaders from renewable energy, energy efficiency, transportation, and the utility sector. Sponsors will have direct access to industry leaders during this day-long conference that offers unique insight and unmatched networking opportunities.


New/ Renewing Members

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Michigan Energy News

Michigan Public Service Commission Chairman Sally Talberg talked about the new energy legislation, net energy metering, the new UP electric utility, and other issues during an appearance this week on the Greening of the Great Lakes radio show.

The House Energy Policy Committee met for the first time this week. Chairman Gary Glenn provided committee members with the opportunity to share their priorities for the upcoming session, with Glenn highlighting his goals reducing energy costs and increasing competition as areas on which the committee will focus its efforts.

Midwest Energy News reports that Michigan leads the Midwest in deployment of smart meters, with 3.2 million smart meters installed as of 2015. That’s nearly a million more meters than Illinois, which was second in the Midwest with 2.3 million meters installed, and represents a nine-fold increase since 2010.

Meanwhile, Lansing’s WILX had a story about concerns that smart meters – also called Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) – is being blamed by residents for higher electricity bills. Consumers Energy argues that the increases are connected to lower than average temperatures, noting that December 2016 was on average 15 degrees colder than December 2015. In response, House Energy Committee Chair Gary Glenn is prepping legislation that would eliminate the opt-out fees charged by utilities for customers who choose not to use smart meters.

DTE Energy has launched its MIGreenPower program, allowing customers to obtain a greater share of their electricity from renewable sources owned by the utility in exchange for paying a 3.1 cent/ kWh premium.

On an earnings call with investors, Consumers Energy CEO Patty Poppe noted that 2016 was the utility’s best year ever for generation reliability, even as it closed 7 of its 12 coal-fired power plants.

The Alger Delta Cooperative Electric Association announced a deal to purchase some of the output from a solar array being developed by WPPI Energy and NextEra Energy Resources. The 100 MW solar project – which is scheduled to come online in 2021 – is being developed next to NextEra’s Point Beach Nuclear Plant in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, and is set to be Wisconsin’s largest solar array when completed. The move to purchase more solar won praise from the (Houghton) Daily Mining Gazette and the Iron Mountain Daily News.

In other UP solar news, the Marquette Board of Light and Power continues to finalize details for its planned solar garden, though the timing is slower than anticipated. Current plans call for subscriptions to made available in May, with construction on the solar installation to be completed this year.

The Village of Northport in Leelanau County was profiled for its efforts to supply 100% of the electricity needs in the Village with renewable energy, part of a larger effort to move local communities to 100% renewable energy.

In filings Friday with the MPSC, Consumers presented its plan for addressing the loss of capacity from the Palisades Nuclear Plant. The plan calls for ramping up energy efficiency to 1.5% per year, aggressively increasing its demand response programs, expediting another wind farm, and increasing the output of the Filer City plant by switching from coal to natural gas. Together with Entergy, which operates the facility, Consumers previously announced their intention to close the plant by May 31, 2018, four years ahead of the 2022 scheduled closure date. Meanwhile, Entergy is considering selling the Palisades plant to a new decommissioning venture that would provide expertise in management, regulatory compliance, and safety.

Nominations are now open for the 2017 Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards, which recognize energy efficiency projects completed in 2016. The deadline for applications is March 31, 2017.


National Energy News

The U.S. added 22 GW of new renewable energy capacity in 2016 – a new record. Over half of that was from solar, which added 12.5 GW, while wind added 8.5 GW, new hydro added approximately 400 MW, bioenergy added 132 MW, and fuel cells accounted for 47 MW of new capacity.

As part of its efforts around distribution system planning, New York is exploring ways to encourage the sharing of distribution-level data for non-utility companies to develop solutions that add value to the overall grid. Meanwhile, the New York ISO released a five-year roadmap to guide integration of distributed energy resources.

Legislation pending in the Missouri legislature that would allow companies to procure renewable energy through power purchase agreements with independent developers has won the support of GM, Wal-Mart, Nestle, Proctor & Gamble, Unilever, Target, and General Mills.

Minnesota-based Xcel Energy unveiled a new program that allows customers to voluntarily purchase renewable energy from a 50 MW wind project and 25 MW solar project located in the North Star State. The program is not without critics, however, with some in Minnesota’s solar community worrying that the new program directly competes with community solar.

Following the appointment of Cheryl LaFluer to chair the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and the subsequent resignation of former chair Norman Bay, FERC is now left without a quorum to do business, leaving the Commission unable to approve routine orders and needing to delegate some authority to staff.

Following a slight decline in 2015, U.S. sales of electric vehicles jumped by 37% in 2016, with January 2017 boasting a 70% increase over January 2016.

A new report from Greentech Media offers five ways for automakers to profit from electric vehicles. Suggestions include coupling EVs with new business models around batteries and offering lower-cost EVs for use in urban settings, among others.

Meanwhile, a new group seeking to grow deployment of electric vehicles in the Midwest was debuted at the Chicago Auto Show this week. Midwest EVOLVE is targeting Michigan, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio in an effort to get more people driving EVs.

A new report from Morgan Stanley finds that the energy storage market will grow faster than expected, and appropriate support from FERC could grow the market to 145 GWh. Utilities are best positioned to reap the benefits of this growth, the report finds, and LG Chem and Tesla are positioned to be the dominant non-utility players.

FERC has given MISO 60 days to propose tariff revisions that would allow for electric storage resources to bid into the regional market, regardless of technology. This follows a notice published in November of last year that FERC was seeking to develop rules to integrate storage options into RTO markets.

Wind energy has surpassed hydropower as the largest source of renewable energy in the U.S., and improvements in technology could result in wind having a higher capacity factor than hydro as soon as 2020.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallon is proposing a 0.5 cent/ kWh tax on wind generation, which would make Oklahoma the second state to tax wind.

A new report from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) finds that demand response programs can reduce peak demand by an average of 10%, complementing savings from energy efficiency savings.

A Minnesota start-up is pursuing the use of geothermal to act as a grid-scale battery. The technology would power geothermal pumps using wind and solar energy, with the geothermal providing support to offset the intermittency of renewables.

Ohio-based First Energy announced it had energized a new $30 million transmission project to provide grid support in areas experiencing commercial and industrial load growth near Cleveland.


Michigan Energy Events
The 2017 UP Energy Summit will take place on Thursday, February 16 at the Don H. Bottom University Center on the campus of Northern Michigan University in Marquette.

Following the UP Energy Summit, Advancing Women in Energy is hosting a networking reception from 4-6PM on Thursday, February 16, also at the NMU University Center in Marquette.

The Institute of Public Utilities is hosting its annual Michigan Forum on Economic Regulatory Policy on Friday, February 24 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing.

The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is hosting its annual Catalyst Conference on Monday, February 27 at the Radisson Hotel in Lansing. Rep. Gary Glenn, Chair of the House Energy Policy Committee, is the keynote speaker.

The Michigan Energy Efficiency Contractors Association is hosting its 2017 Annual Gala on Thursday, March 2 in East Lansing. Tickets and more information are available here.

The 2017 Powering Michigan Agriculture Conference is taking place on Thursday, March 9 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing.

The Institute of Public Utilities will host Grid School 2017 from March 27-30 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing.

Michigan EIBC’s 5th Annual Member Meeting will take place on Wednesay, April 26 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing. (Note the new date.) This annual event brings together leaders in Michigan’s advanced energy industry, utility executives, policymakers, regulators, and others. Past speakers have included Congressman Mike Bishop (R-Mich.), MPSC Chairman Sally Talberg, Senate Energy Chair Mike Nofs (R-Battle Creek) Consumers Energy CEO Patti Poppe, Invenergy CEO Michael Polsky, and former CLEAResult CEO Glenn Garland. This year’s Annual Member Meeting will feature discussions on grid modernization and infrastructure, corporate procurement of advanced energy, and how energy, IT, and transportation are converging to create the new mobility industry, among many others. Registration is open now, and sponsorship opportunities are also available.

The Michigan Geothermal Energy Association is hosting its 2017 annual meeting on April 26-27 at the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mt. Pleasant. Trevor Lauer, president and chief operating officer of DTE Electric, will speak at the dinner on April 26. Additional details to follow.

The 2017 Energy Efficiency Conference and Exhibition, hosted by DTE Energy and the Engineering Society of Detroit, will take place May 9 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. The conference is now accepting proposals for presentations on topics related to energy efficiency.

National Energy Events

The Midwest Energy Research Consortium is hosting a Midwest Energy Storage Conference on February 15 in Milwaukee.

GreenBiz17 is taking place on February 14-16 in Phoenix. Join the world’s brightest sustainability thinkers for a look into the pressing challenges, emerging trends, and biggest opportunities in sustainable business today.

The Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance is hosting their annual Midwest Energy Solutions Conference on February 22-24 in Chicago. This annual events aims to raise awareness and reinforce the importance of energy efficiency in the Midwest.

The 2017 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit is taking place February 27-March 1 in National Harbor, MD. Now in its 8th year, this annual event brings together technical and professional experts for a program aimed at moving transformational energy technologies out of the lab and into the market.

The 2017 ACEEE/ CEE National Symposium on Market Transformation will take place April 2-4 in Washington D.C. The theme for this year’s conference is ‘Innovative Approaches from Emerging Technologies to Market Transformation.’

The Energy Storage Association’s 27th Annual Conference and Expo is taking place April 18-20 in Denver. This event brings together leaders in the global energy industry working at the nexus of policy, technology and markets for energy storage.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s annual Future of Energy Summit will take place April 24-25 in New York. This annual event brings together traditional players and advanced energy leaders to discuss the critical energy issues of today and the next decade.

The annual AWEA Windpower Conference is taking place May 22-25 in Anaheim, CA. The marquee event for the US wind industry returns with top-tier speakers, world-class education, cutting edge technology, and premium marketing.

Greentech Media’s Grid Edge World Forum 2017  will be held in San Jose, CA on June 27-29. As the only conference exclusively focused on emerging distributed energy system, this event highlights the trends, opportunities, and innovation happening at the grid edge.

Additional Resources 

The 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 now closed. 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.
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 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.