Newsletter: New Reports Show Success, Ongoing Potential of Advanced Energy in Michigan

This newsletter was originally published on February 21, 2017.

New Reports Show Success, Ongoing Potential of Advanced Energy in Michigan

A pair of new reports released last week show dramatic success on the renewable energy front – and the opportunity for demand response to cost-effectively meet Michigan’s capacity challenges. Together, these reports highlight how advanced energy technologies are reshaping Michigan’s energy landscape.

On Wednesday, the Michigan Public Service Commission released its annual assessment of Michigan’s renewable portfolio standard, finding that since its enactment in 2008, Michigan’s renewable energy requirement has spurred $3.3 billion in investment to bring 1670 MW of new capacity online. Over that time, the costs associated with renewable energy have fallen dramatically, to the point that only two investor-owned utilities – Indiana Michigan Power and Wisconsin Electric Power Company – continue to assess a charge for compliance with the renewables law. The recent enactment of legislation to expand the RPS to 15% by 2021 is anticipated to spur additional benefits.

Among the positive results announced in the MPSC report, however, there was one note of caution. Renewable energy projects installed since the original RPS was achieved at the end of 2015 have been constructed exclusively by Michigan utilities, reflecting the end of a requirement that guaranteed independent developers 50% of the market. This lack of competition corresponds to a rare increase in renewable costs, as shown in this table taken from the MPSC report:

Year Utility-owned projects Non-utility owned projects
2016 $55.58/ MWh N/A
2015 $50.00/ MWh $45.00/ MWh
2014 N/A N/A
2013 $55.95/ MWh $50.04/ MWh


Following the Commission’s RPS report, Advanced Energy Economy Institute issues a report on Friday that found that a combination of demand response strategies could entirely offset a projected 2000 MW increase in summer peak demand in the Lower Peninsula from 2017 to 2016, avoid or defer the need to construct additional power plants, and save up to $1.2 billion for electricity customers. The findings of this report are consistent with recent statements from the Michigan Public Service Commission that demand response programs were the most cost-effective way to fill any gaps in meeting demand under conditions that are challenging to the grid.

Speaking about the AEE Institute study, Michigan EIBC president Liesl Eichler Clark noted that “It’s simply good business to utilize advanced energy technologies and resources that reduce energy waste. Managing how much energy is used – and, as importantly, when it is used – can drive significant savings for Michigan ratepayers. Regulators and utilities searching ways to bring down electricity costs in the state should take this report’s findings to heart and implement effective demand reduction programs.”

Whether its adding new renewable generation to the state’s electricity mix as a means of limiting future rate increases or incorporating demand response opportunities to cost-effectively meet Michigan’s capacity challenges, it’s clear that advanced energy is delivering real benefits to Michigan. Michigan EIBC will continue to be a voice at the table for the advanced energy industry, ensuring that we continue to remove barriers to fully realize the benefits advanced energy can offer.


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. 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.


Michigan Energy News

LG Chem is expanding its battery production facility in Holland, a plan that is estimated to create up to 150 additional jobs. The expansion would increase the plant’s lithium-ion battery manufacturing capacity.

State Representative Gary Glenn (R-Midland) has introduced legislation that would allow homeowners to opt out of smart meters, and would eliminate the monthly charge for those without advanced meters. The House Energy Policy Committee, which Glenn chairs, is taking up the legislation this morning.

Governor Rick Snyder attended the UP Energy Summit last week in Marquette, where he spoke about options to interconnect the UP with Ontario or the Lower Peninsula, plans to develop an infrastructure asset management system, and plans to build new natural gas plants in the UP.

Ridgeway Wright, the president of the C.S. Mott Foundation, together with Ellen Alberding, president of the Joyce Foundation, wrote an OpEd in Crain’s Detroit Business highlighting the benefits of the recently enacted energy legislation. At the same time, Representative Glenn has signaled he may work to modify or repeal elements of the new law, including efforts to expand retail open access and possibly to repeal the renewable energy and energy waste reduction standards.

Consumers Energy is withdrawing a plan to build out a $15 million electric vehicle charging station network. The proposal had been included in a rate case pending before the Michigan Public Service Commission. Instead of approving the Consumers Proposal, the Administrative Law Judge argued that the Commission should establish a Michigan Electric Vehicle Collaborative.

DTE Electric President Trevor Lauer told a St. Clair County audience that DTE expects to have its St. Clair coal plant back online by July, after a fire damaged the facility in August of last year. Looking longer term, Lauer shared plans to build a $1 billion natural gas plant on a site adjacent to the current facility, which he expects to become operational in 2022.

The City of Ann Arbor is wrestling with options related to the taxation of residential solar installations. While some municipalities do not tax residential solar installations, the Ann Arbor assessor does, arguing that state law requires it. Meanwhile, farmers participating in the state’s PA 116 farmland preservation program are learning that they will lose their tax credits if they allow their land to be used for large-scale solar deployment. Finally, a dispute over the tax treatment of large-scale wind developments is heading to court this summer.

Discharges from geothermal systems in Traverse City are raising concerns after two open-loop systems were found to be discharging into the Boardman River and one of its tributaries.

Researchers at both the University of Michigan and Michigan State University are pursuing advances in hydroelectric generation, hoping to mitigate some of the negative impacts of hydro while taking advantage of it as a generation source.  

Traverse Magazine profiled Crystal Mountain CEO Jim MacInnes, highlighting his leadership in advanced energy.

Energy choice advocates are reacting with a mix of surprise and optimism to a recent decision from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to reject a two-tiered capacity market proposal from the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, with some of them stressing the importance of language added to the state energy law enacted in December, and the issues that will need to be addressed by the Michigan Public Service Commission in implementing these provisions.

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.  You can hear more about the program from Michigan Saves Executive Director Mary Templeton, who dropped by Greening of the Great Lakes to promote the awards program.


National Energy News

The U.S. Senate confirmed former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Votes on Rick Perry to serve as Secretary of Energy and Congressman Ryan Zinke (R-MT) to lead the U.S. Department of the Interior are expected when the Senate returns from its week-long Presidents’ Day recess.

Morgan Stanly and Exane ENB Paribas increased their projections of EV market share growth, with Morgan Stanley projecting 7% of vehicles on the road by 2025 will be EVs, and Exane ENB Paribas projecting 11% by 2025.

New studies from Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory and Rhodium find that the cost-shift between customers with solar arrays and those without is likely negligible, and may represent a net benefit.

General Motors announced it was partnering with Lyft to deploy thousands of autonomous vehicles as part of Lyft’s ride-sharing fleet, beginning in 2018. Meanwhile, a U.S. House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hosted a hearing focused on autonomous vehicles last week, part of a bipartisan effort to advance a series of bills this year to build customer confidence in self-driving cars. On the Senate side, Michigan Senator Gary Peters, together with Senator John Thune (R-SD), announced plans to introduce legislation to remove regulatory obstacles and accelerate innovation in autonomous vehicles.

Cheryl LaFleur, the Acting Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, highlighted FERC’s recent efforts to fully integrate energy storage solutions into U.S. wholesale energy markets. LaFleur spoke at the winter meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC).

The U.S. solar market surged 95% in 2016, according to date released by Greentech Media and SEIA.

The Illinois Commerce Commission has approved a proposal from ComEd to allow access to anonymous energy usage data in order to drive development of new products and services from smart home and applicance manufacturers, HVAC and lighting companies, and others.

Michigan EIBC Leadership Council member Invenergy has launched the Invenergy Future Fund, a venture capital fund targeting companies that use technology to make energy more reliable, affordable, and secure. The Invenergy Future Fund’s first investment is in Acuilon Energy Services, a cloud-based platform that enables buyers and sellers to automatically settle both physical and financial energy transactions.

Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) are renewing their multi-year efforts to pass meaningful energy efficiency legislation at the federal level.

The Southwest Power Pool, a grid operator covering fourteen states from Texas to Montana, got 52% of its electricity from wind last Sunday, the first U.S. grid operator to get a majority of its power from wind.

The CEOs of Ford, GM, and Fiat Chrysler, along with top North American executives are Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Volkswagen, and others, sent a letter to President Trump asking him to reverse a decision by the Obama Administration to lock in fuel economy standards through 2025.

Kansas City Power & Light, an investor-owned utility serving customers in both Kansas and Missouri, has become a leader in deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, having deployed 850 of a planned 1000 charging stations throughout its service territory.

NPR’s All Tech Considered profiled the new Chevy Bolt, which it described as possibly “the first of a new wave of game changing electric vehicles.”

Florida Power & Light is doubling its plans for solar deployment this year, increasing its target to 600 MW of new solar capacity, a move the utility argues will save ratepayers millions of dollars.

Tesla is claiming it is achieving a 35% reduction in battery costs at its new Gigafactory, potentially achieving a breakthrough cost of $125/kWh.

The World Economic Forum has a post on the potential of Fleets of Autonomous Vehicles that are Electric and Shared (FAVES) reducing the number of vehicles on the road by as much as 90%.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative announced up to $30 million in grants to support its Grid Modernization Initiative.


Michigan Energy Events
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 Wednesday, April 26 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing. 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 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.