Newsletter: Nofs Hints at Changes to Net Metering Legislation

This newsletter was originally published on February 29, 2016.

Nofs Hints at Changes to Net Metering Legislation

Michigan Senate Energy and Technology Committee Chair Mike Nofs hinted last week at changes to legislation that, as introduced, would decimate solar in Michigan. Currently, SB 438 would virtually end independent solar energy production in Michigan by eliminating Michigan’s net metering program and replacing it with a scheme that forces solar owners to sell their energy to their utility at a lower wholesale rate and buy it back at the much higher retail rate.

Speaking as part of the Michigan Forum on Economic Regulatory Policy hosted by MSU’s Institute of Public Utilities, Senator Nofs described the debate over the proposed legislation as “boisterous,” and suggested that as part of changes to the legislation existing net metering customers would be grandfathered under the existing program for ten years. The legislation would still end net energy metering in Michigan, with new solar customers having to sell their energy to their utility at a rate based on what the utility pays for energy at that time of day.

Senator Nofs also stated that he hoped to soon hold hearings on the amended legislation, with the goal of moving the legislation out of the Senate before they break the week of March 28.

In addition to the proposed changes to net metering, Nofs indicated that proposed changes would authorize the Michigan Public Service Commission to reinstate decoupling for electric utilities, but only after the utilities met a 1% energy efficiency goal. For renewables, Nofs indicated that there would be no continuing RPS, and that the MPSC would determine what was cost effective based on utility filings. The current provision that allocates 50% of Michigan’s renewable market to independent developers would also be eliminated, replaced by a system that would allow utilities to charge a rate of return on power purchase agreements. Finally, Nofs indicated that the 10% retail open access market would continue.

Michigan EIBC continues to believe that the Legislature should build on the proven successes of the 2008 bipartisan energy legislation and will continue to represent our member companies in advocating for the certainty that comes from clear standards and opportunities for independent energy companies to access Michigan’s energy market.


Consumers Energy Proposes $225 Million Rate Hike

Less than four months after gaining MPSC approval for $126 million increase in rates, Consumers Energy this week filed a rate case with the Commission asking for an additional $225 million.

The Consumers rate case follows DTE’s filing last month for an additional $344 million in rates, which came just two months after DTE was approved to increase rates by $238 million.


Michigan Energy News

Together with a group of local partners, the Institute for Energy Innovation this week launched a Solarize Michigan initiative focused on accelerating small-scale solar deployment in the Great Lakes Bay region.

DTE Energy announced a series of management changes, where Jerry Norcia, President and COO of DTE Electric and Gas Storage and Pipelines, will replace Steve Kurmas as President and COO of DTE Energy. Kurmas will become DTE’s Vice Chairman, before retiring next year after 38 years with the utility. Trevor Lauer, currently Senior Vice President of Distribution Operations, has been promoted to President and COO of DTE Electric, the company’s largest business unit. The management changes are set to take effect April 4.

Two wind turbines were downed in Huron County, though DTE was able to quickly respond, and highlighted the usual protections turbines have to prevent this.

Michigan EIBC President Liesl Eichler Clark is quoted in a Midwest Energy News story about how policy changes could stunt job growth in the solar industry.

Michigan Radio has a piece on Attorney General Bill Schuette’s request for a halt on the EPA’s new mercury rule for coal-fired power plants.


National Energy News

Morning consult reports that a deal may have been struck on the Senate Energy Bill, including an amendment to include funding for the Flint Water Crisis, after an anonymous hold was placed on the bill.

Utility Dive has a piece on rate design and the future of solar.

Morning Consult has a story on public support for the Clean Power Plan.

Utility Dive has a feature on the DC Public Service Commission voting 2-1 to reject the Exelon Pepco merger, but offering suggested changes to the proposal that would lead to their approval. If the merger happens, they will become the largest utility in the U.S. by consumer base.

The Portland Press Herald has a story about the benefits to ratepayers and job creation involving a solar plan in Maine.

Utility Dive has a piece on the energy storage capabilities of electric water heaters.

SolarCity unveils their new storage system for Hawaii’s self-supply option, after their net metering program was ended last year.


Michigan Events
Michigan State University Extension will be having a conference, “Powering Michigan Agriculture Conference: Farm influence on Michigan’s Clean Power Plan” on March 11, from 8:30 AM to 4 PM, at the Kellogg Center. Read more here.

SPECIAL MICHIGAN EIBC MEMBERS-ONLY EVENT: Michigan EIBC Members are invited to a special tour of Suniva’s solar manufacturing facility in Saginaw. The tour will take place on Monday, March 14, from 1:30 to 2:30 PM. Michigan EIBC members canregister here.
SAVE THE DATE: The 4th Annual Michigan EIBC Members Meeting will take place on Wednesday, May 4 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing. Additional information on speakers, sponsorship opportunities, and registration will be available soon. Note that this event has been rescheduled.

The 2016 Michigan CHP Conference will be held Tuesday, May 10 at Oakland University in Rochester. The theme for this year’s conference is “Moving to Clean Energy with Combined Heat and Power: Matching CHP Customers to Suppliers.”

National Events
ACEEE’s 2016 National Symposium on Market Transformation will take place in Baltimore on March 20-22.

AWEA’s annual WINDPOWER event will take place May 23-26 in New Orleans.

Intersolar North America will take place July 12-14 in San Francisco.

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.