Newsletter: NREL Presents Future of the Grid Presentation to MPSC

This newsletter was originally published on August 22, 2016.

NREL Presents Future of the Grid Presentation to MPSC

Dr. Bryan Hannegan, Associate Laboratory Director for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), gave a presentation to the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) and other interested parties titled “Modernizing the Grid for a Low-Carbon Future.” The presentation focused on the needs to modernize the grid and how that can be done. NREL is the primary laboratory funded by the Department of Energy (DOE) researching and  developing advanced energy technologies and practices.

Hannegan’s presentation highlighted the urgency around grid modernization, focusing on the needs for increased grid security, stability after extreme events, accommodating a changing supply mix and opening up to new markets. His presentation moved from there to highlight the changing economics, highlighting the dropping prices and increased capacity of utility scale wind, utility scale solar and distributed generation.  

The presentation then briefed the audience on existing and future DOE projects focused on grid modernization. Projects included coordinated research and development and regional implementation tools. Each step is focused on a national goal of having a grid that’s resilient, reliable, flexible, secure, sustainable and affordable.

You can view the slide-deck of the full presentation here.


Power Plant Fire in Macomb County

A power plant in East China Township that started Thursday evening took firefighters well into Friday morning to put out. DTE’s St. Clair Plant fire started in a coal generation unit. There are six turbine units in the plant. The fire did not result in any power outages, according to DTE, nor will the fire impact service to customers.

The 63-year-old coal-fired power plant was already scheduled to be retired between 2020 and 2023, along with two other outdated coal-fired plants. Together these plants account for 25 percent of the utilities current capacity. Alone, this plant’s fire and aftermath should not have an impact on meeting the state’s baseload needs. The St. Clair plant currently had a capacity factor of only 32 percent.


New/Renewing Members


ecojiva is committed to providing solar-based solutions to help lower or eliminate the cost of energy consumption. Our turn-key service ensures a seamless installation with no disruption to your operation. Specializing in rural installations has enabled us to help over 100 businesses. Working hard is what you do, making the sun work for you is what we do.


Midwest Energy Group

Founded in 2007, Midwest Energy Group is an energy services company (ESCO) focused on energy efficiency and energy management. We exist to provide positive financial and operational impact for our customers, serving commercial, industrial, municipal, and institutional organizations. Our purpose is to develop and nurture long-term relationships, consistently driving customer profitability through the provision of expert advice, progressive engineering, custom energy efficiency solutions, and energy management plans. 

We Identify, Design, Implement & Monitor Energy Efficiency Projects so our clients can lower their operating costs and increase their profitability.


NTH Consultants, Ltd.

NTH Consultants, Ltd. (NTH) is a nationally recognized engineering firm specializing in Geotechnical, Environmental, and Facilities Engineering. NTH provides innovative solutions to a multitude of engineering challenges and our staff members have extensive knowledge and experience in a wide variety of engineering and technical disciplines.

NTH has been providing professional consulting services to public and private clients throughout the United States as a Michigan corporation since 1968. NTH is an employee-owned firm that has earned the respect of our peers and our clients by providing innovative, cost-effective solutions for both unusual and routine projects.



Siemens is a global technology powerhouse that has stood for engineering excellence, innovation, quality, reliability and internationality for more than 165 years. The company is active in more than 200 countries, focusing on the areas of electrification, automation and digitalization. One of the world’s largest producers of energy-efficient, resource-saving technologies, Siemens is No. 1 in offshore wind turbine construction, a leading supplier of gas and steam turbines for power generation, a major provider of power transmission solutions and a pioneer in infrastructure solutions as well as automation, drive and software solutions for industry.


Veolia North America

Veolia North America is a leading U.S. operator and developer of efficient energy solutions. In Grand Rapids, Veolia’s district energy facility provides convenient, reliable and cost-effective thermal energy to approximately 120 commercial, government, institutional and healthcare customers. Globally, Veolia is the leader in optimized resource management and designs and provides water, waste and energy management solutions that contribute to the sustainable development of communities and industries. Through three complementary business activities, Veolia helps to develop access to resources, preserve available resources, and to replenish them.


Michigan Energy News

The utility connected nonprofit advocacy group, Citizens for Michigan’s Energy Future, spent $7.4 million last year in paid advertising during the legislative debate, MIRS news reports.

Governor Snyder has asked the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) to study the possible benefits of grid expansion connecting Michigan’s two peninsulas. MISO says it is too early to determine, TV 6 reports.

Senator Mike Shirkey (R- Clark Lake) penned an opinion article in the Detroit News, stating his continued opposition to SB 437 and calling for the legislature to not “rush in” due to concerns about capacity.

Traverse City Recorder Eagle’s editorial board supported increased and immediate focus on meeting capacity needs.

The Lansing Board of Water and Light unveiled their long-term strategy, including extensive transmission updates and a 40 percent renewable energy goal by 2030, Lansing State Journal reports.

Consumer’s started operations at their 1MW community solar garden off Western Michigan University’s campus, UPI reports.

The Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards recognized Michigan business, nonprofit and public sector leaders tapping energy efficiency, including Michigan EIBC member Mackinac Technology. Read more here.

Tax-exempt lease purchase agreements (TELP) will help make energy efficiency projects more affordable, according the Michigan EIBC member company – Johnson Controls. TDWorld has the rest of the story.

Michigan EIBC member company APEX clean energy is proposing additional wind projects in Berrien County, causing Townships to discuss their zoning process, the Herald-Palladium reports.


National Energy News

Solar Energy International, with matching funds from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, have launched Solar Ready Colorado, working to train unemployed coal-miners, veterans and workers furloughed from the gas and oil industries to work in solar power. Read about their project here.

These are the 10 solar energy facts and charts everyone needs to know, Clean Technica reports.

Utility Dive has a feature on how rate cases involving distributed power open valuation discussions up more than legislative policy debates.

Utility Dive also has a feature on the growth of on-bill financing in electric co-ops.

Wyoming is in the middle of a debate over wind power taxation, LA Times reports.

NY Times has a feature on NRG, and the obstacles around deploying renewables.

Data Centers like Switch’s facility in the Grand Rapids area are tapping more and more into renewables, Data Center Knowledge reports.

California has more solar power than you think, as the state’s records are higher than official numbers suggest, GreenTech Media reports.

Massachusetts became the third state to pass an energy storage standard, Utility Dive reports.

BMI research asserts that electric storage is “key to unlocking lucrative power and transport markets,” Bloomberg reports.


Michigan Energy Events
Michigan EIBC will be hosting a tour of the Bell’s Brewing Facility and Digester on Tuesday, August 23, as part of an industrial energy efficiency/ combined-heat-and-power roundtable discussion. This event is open only to Michigan EIBC members, public officials, and roundtable attendees. Want to become a Michigan EIBC member? Join now for $350!
SAVE THE DATE: Michigan EIBC members are invited to a tour of Ventower Industries on Monday, August 29. More details will follow. The event is for Michigan EIBC members only. Want to become a Michigan EIBC member? Join now for $350!

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 US Department of Energy, with help from NextEnergy, the American Jobs Project and Michigan EIBC, is hosting their Manufacturing Impacts Through Energy and Commerce (MITEC) Bootcamp on Wednesday, September 14, at Next Energy. You can find out more and register here.

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
The Next 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 accepted through Monday, October 31, 2016. 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. 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.