Newsletter: Public Service Commission Report Finds that Energy Optimization Programs Exceeds Targets, Provides Savings to Ratepayers

This newsletter was originally published on December 1, 2014.

Public Service Commission Report Finds that Energy Optimization Programs Exceeds Targets; Provides Savings to Ratepayers

The Michigan Public Service Commission last week issued its annual report on the implementation of utility energy optimization (EO) programs under Public Act 295 of 2008. The report shows that overall, 2013 EO program savings achieved for electric utilities were 132 percent of the target, and the 2013 EO program savings achieved for natural gas utilities were 121 percent of the target. Statewide funding for EO programs in 2013 was $253 million, which will result in savings of $948 million to customers over the lifetime of the measures installed according to the report – a savings of $3.75 for every dollar invested.

The energy optimization programs accounted for electric savings totaling over 1.3 MWh and natural gas savings totaling over 4.41 million Mcf for program year 2013. Those numbers equate to approximately 121,000 households’ annual electric usage, and around 58,000 households’ annual natural gas usage.


Lame Duck Update: Congress Passes 3 Week PTC Extension; Michigan Considers Waste-to-Energy, Wind Siting, and On-Bill Financing

The post-election lame duck legislative sessions in both Lansing and Washington have started with a bang. In Michigan, the State House yesterday passed legislation that would redefine renewable energy to include a number of waste-to-energy sources. The bill now moves to the Senate, where its fate it uncertain. A House Committee earlier this week took testimony from those who oppose the roll-out of smart meters in Michigan. As there is no bill under consideration, the committee hearing – held by an ardent opponent of smart meters – was largely for show.

On the Senate side, the Senate Energy and Technology Committee this week approved HB 5397, a measure that would allow municipal electric utilities to offer their customers the option of financing energy efficiency projects, distributed generation systems, and electric vehicle charging solutions through on-bill financing, where the loans are repaid directly on the customer’s utility bill. This legislation previously passed the House and is now awaiting action by the full Senate. The Senate Energy Committee also took testimony on a pair of bills that would provide protection for wind projects from nuisance suits. No action was taken by the Committee on the bills, and it is uncertain whether the bills will move. Finally, we continue to await action on HB 5806, which would expand the ability of community colleges to use performance contracting to finance energy efficiency improvements.

At the federal level, the U.S. House earlier this week passed a tax extenders bill that includes a one-year extension of the Production Tax Credit and other energy tax incentives for energy efficiency measures and biofuels. A number of groups, however, have highlighted that what’s being billed as a one-year really provides only three weeks of opportunity for projects to qualify, as this latest extension expires at the end of 2014. It was reported earlier in the week that the Senate was close to a compromise that would have extended the PTC through 2017 before phasing it out, but those negotiations were scuttled by the threat of a presidential veto. A bipartisan foursome of governors this week urged lawmakers to pass a two-year extension of the PTC, as in the Senate tax extenders package, and Sen. Ron Wyden, Chair of the Senate Energy Committee, has suggested that he may seek a two-year extension.


Join the Planning Team for the Michigan EIBC 2015 Annual Member Meeting

The Michigan EIBC would like to hear from our members as we plan the agenda for the 2015 Annual Member Meeting. The 2015 Annual Member Meeting will be in April. The first planning meeting will be December 8 at 11am.

The call-in information is:

Dial-in: 559-726-1300;

Access code: 241782#

The annual Member Meeting brings our members together to update them on the activities and health of the organization and provides our members an opportunity to network and learn the latest of what is going on in the advanced energy sector. The meeting also features the annual election of Michigan EIBC Board members.


2014 Michigan Advanced Energy Industry Survey Shows Very High Levels of Optimism Among Industry Participants

Michigan EIBC this week released the results of its 2014 Michigan Advanced Energy Industry Survey at the Michigan EIBC West Michigan Networking Event in Grand Rapids. The survey found strong growth in industry hiring over the last year, with 45% of Michigan firms adding employees in 2014, compared to 14% who saw workforce reductions.

Looking ahead to 2015, the industry is optimistic that these hiring trends will continue, with 72% of Michigan firms expecting to hire additional employees in next year, compared with just 5% that expect further job losses.

Not surprisingly, the vast majority of industry participants are optimistic about the future, with 95% describing themselves as very or somewhat optimistic, compared to just 2% who describe themselves as somewhat pessimistic.


Michigan EIBC in Action

Michigan EIBC works hard to make sure the business voice for advanced energy in Michigan is heard loud and clear where it matters most. This section highlights some of our weekly activities so you can track our activities on your behalf. Any questions or want to make sure we’re aware of a key industry event? Contact us at

  • Liesl Eichler Clark, Michigan EIBC’s Vice President for Policy and Business Development, attended the MPSC’s Smart Grid Collaborative work session on Monday. The event featured presentations from the Regulatory Assistance Project on “utility of the future” business model development, and reports from New York’s proceedings around Reforming the Energy Vision.
  • Michigan EIBC co-hosted with Advanced Energy Economy a day-long 21st Century Electricity System CEO Forum on Wednesday, which was hosted by Michigan EIBC member ITC at their corporate offices in Novi. The event featured participation by executives from DTE Energy and Consumers Energy, all three MPSC Commissioners, Governor Snyder’s Senior Energy Policy Advisor, and a number of CEOs from advanced energy companies, including Michigan EIBC Board members Ann Marie Sastry of Sakti3 and Anand Gangadharan of NOVI Energy, and Tim Hardesty of Michigan EIBC Member CLEAResult. Michigan EIBC President Dan Scripps also participated in the event, as did Liesl Clark. NOVI Energy also sponsored a dinner for event participants.
  • Scripps and Clark attended a celebration for the first PACE-financed project in Michigan, held at the 1-800-LAW-FIRM offices in Southfield. The improvements financed under a PACE loan facilitated by Lean & Green Michigan, the statewide PACE financing program, include 4 kW of wind, 146 kW of solar, electric vehicle charging stations, and a range of energy efficiency improvements.
  • Michigan EIBC hosted a full house for its quarterly West Michigan Advanced Energy Networking meeting Thursday at the Varnum law offices in Grand Rapids. In addition to networking and business development opportunities, the event featured a presentation on microgrids from Tom Stanton of the National Regulatory Research Institute.


Michigan EIBC Welcomes New Members

Stahlin Enclosures has been manufacturing electrical enclosures for over 60 years. What started out as a solution for excessive corrosion in a gulf coast oil platform application, has become a diverse product offering for a wide variety of industries providing solution to solve everyday problems. Stahlin also offers its ModRight and FormRight programs. These programs provide a service to engineers and designers that help them with solving problems that standard off the shelf products cannot solve. From custom designing non-metallic enclosures to custom composite formulations, Stahlin has the technology and service support to help with even the most demanding applications.


McNaughton-McKay Electric has become the largest stocking solar distributor in the MidwestThey warehouse over 300kw of SolarWorld & Suniva (Made in Michigan) modules, residential roof racking, inverters and a complete line of balance of system materials in Ann Arbor, MI. Major lines include SolarEdge & Fronius inverters and AET (another Michigan company) for ballasted & ground mount racking.

McNaughton-McKay has served the Michigan community for 105 years as a traditional electrical distributor. Local delivery & product support have proven to further lower the cost of solar in the region.


Michigan Energy News

  • Gov. Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette and U.S. Reps. Fred Upton and Dan Benishek wrote in a six-page letter to FERC commissioners urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last week to rethink its approach to replacing the retiring Presque Isle power plant, saying FERC is favoring expensive transmission over cheaper generation.
  • Michigan Energy Innovators Gala Emerging Company of the Year recipient, Energy Power Systems LLC, was featured in a piece about their achievement.  
  • Michigan EIBC member Levin Energy Partners announced this week that Star Lincoln in Southfield will become the first dealership to save energy with PACE. The $485,000 project will save so much energy that out of every $1 invested, 83 cents will go to repaying the PACE assessment and 17 cents will be positive cash flow for the business – for 20 years.
  • Michigan’s two largest utilities, Consumers Energy and DTE Energy Co., are mounting a major public relations effort to make legislators and electric customers aware that a shortage of power generation reserve could occur in Michigan and the Midwest starting in 2016.
  • Eaton Corporation of Southfield, Michigan, has received funding from the DOE to develop a turbine and generator system that uses lightweight advanced materials and advanced manufacturing techniques such as laser-assisted welding, surface treatments, and processing.


Upcoming Michigan Events 

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) is hosting a Michigan Wind Energy Forum on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 in Lansing. Registration is now open, and the early bird registration deadline is December 12.

Michigan State University’s Institute of Public Utilities is hosting its annual Michigan Forum on Economic Regulatory Policy on January 30, 2015 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing.

PlugVolt will be hosting the 2015 Battery Seminar in Plymouth, February 10 – 11, 2015.


Upcoming National Energy Events

The 2014 Island Energy Conference will be held November 7 – 9 in Portland, Maine.

The U.S. Solar Market Insight Conference will be held December 8-10 in San Diego, CA.

CleanEdge, ACORE, Navigant Research, Biomass Magazine, AWEA and Latin America Renovable will be hosting Renewable Energy World Conference & Expo North America 2014 on December 9 – 11 in Orlando, FL.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s arpa-e Energy Innovation Summit will be held February 9-11, 2015 in Washington D.C.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is sponsoring a Finance and Tax Seminar on February 26-27 in New York, NY.

The Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit 2015 is taking place April 13-15, 2015 in New York, NY. The theme for the 2015 Summit is “Opportunities in Transformation.”

The American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) annual WINDPOWER 2015 Conference and Exposition is being held May 18-21, 2015 in Orlando, FL. The early-bird registration deadline is February 24, 2015, with additional discounts for those who register by January 9. Michigan EIBC will be hosting a Michigan Pavilion at WINDPOWER 2015. If your company is interested in exhibition space as part of the Michigan Pavilion, please contact


U.S. Advanced Energy News

  • Florida regulators last week approved proposals to gut Florida’s energy-efficiency goals by more than 90 percent and to terminate solar rebate programs by the end of 2015.
  • More than two-thirds of new U.S. generating capacity in October 2014 is from wind energy.
  • An Arizona utility, Salt River Project, is proposing that customers who want to add solar to their homes would be charged a $50 a month in new fees as part of a rate-hike plan.


Advanced Energy Resources

  • The Department of Energy has unveiled a website that will provide free public access to accepted peer-reviewed manuscripts or published scientific journal articles from projects funded by the DOE within 12 months of publication.
  • Advanced Energy Economy, Michigan EIBC’s national partner organization, has launched PowerSuite, a new 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.
  • First Energy Finance, which includes Michigan EIBC Board Member Rachel Tronstein, launched, a new 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 has launched 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 Advanced Energy Legislation Tracker, an online resource developed by Advanced Energy Economy, Michigan EIBC’s national partner, and the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University, features a free, searchable database of pending and enacted advanced energy legislation covering electric generation, energy efficiency, infrastructure, energy finance, economic development and other issues.
  • DOE’s Wind Program recently updated its website, expanding its Offshore Wind RD&D webpage to a full section, including content on its portfolio of technology development, market acceleration, and demonstration projects. The program’s offshore wind portfolio is aimed at overcoming key barriers to offshore wind development, including the relatively high cost of energy, the mitigation of environmental impacts, the technical challenges of project installation, and grid interconnection. These pages create a hub for program-funded offshore wind project results, reports, and resources, and will be updated regularly as projects conclude.
  • The Energy Department has launched a new online tool—the Wind Career Map. The map highlights the broad range of careers and required skill sets across the wind industry


Funding Opportunities

  • Apply to participate in Rebuild Michigan, a program that helps commercial property owners reduce energy use, while saving money and improving building quality. Applications will be evaluated as they are received.
  • The Michigan Business Accelerator Fund provides support to organizations providing specialized business acceleration services and resources. Maximum funding is $50,000. Applications will be evaluated as they are received.
  • NextEnergy has launched NextChallenge, a business competition meant to inspire the development of innovative energy solutions. The challenge will address the unique lighting technology needs of Ford Motor Company and RecoveryPark, a major urban farming operation in Detroit. Participants are asked to submit an online Request for Solutions proposal to one, or both, lighting challenges by 11:59 p.m. EST on March 6, 2015. Michigan-based winners are eligible for up to $80,000 cash and/or in-kind support and non-Michigan-based winners are eligible for up to $40,000 in-kind support.
  • The Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) through the Energy Office (MEO) is offering small businesses, currently located in Michigan, financial assistance for energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy project implementation. Deadline: September 30, 2015 or until funds are exhausted.
  • The SunShot Initiative has released a notice of intent to Issue Solar Energy Manufacturing 2 Funding Announcement.
  • The Department of Energy will issue a funding opportunity announcement to fund next-generation non-vapor compression HVAC technologies and improvements to existing advanced vapor compression HVAC technologies. Deadline: December 1, 2014
  • The U.S. Department of Energy will provide loans for projects that employ innovative and renewable or efficient energy technologies. Deadlines: January 14, 2015; December 2, 2015: March 2, 2016
  • MEDC opening funding announcements.
  • Funding opportunities listed on NextEnergy’s website.
  • Financial opportunities from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).
  • U.S. Small Business Administration grants.
  • The United States Department of Energy announced the topics for an upcoming funding opportunity for small businesses which include two geothermal subtopics: a) innovations to develop under-utilized markets and b) a technology transfer opportunity for coproduced geothermal resources. This grant will be issued on November 24, 2014. Letters of intent are due December 15 and full applications by February 3, 2015.
  • The U.S. Department of Energy will provide loans for projects that employ innovative and renewable or efficient energy technologies. Deadlines: January 14, 2015; December 2, 2015: March 2, 2016
  • DOE-SBIR provides funding to small businesses using a funding ladder similar to that of cleantech investors with $150,000-$225,000 at Phase I; $1 million-1.5 million at Phase II; a potential additional $1 million for sequential Phase II and Phase III (not-set-aside funded) at up to $4.5 million.

EERE Cleantech Webinar: December 8, 2014

Mandatory Letter of Intent deadline: December 15, 2014 Application (requires LOI) deadline: February 3, 2015

  • The Physics of Reliability: Evaluating Design Insights for Component Technologies in Solar 2 (PREDICTS 2) funding opportunity announcement (FOA) seeks research and development projects that will advance the reliability and durability of solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies. These projects will directly support SunShot’s mission to cut the cost of solar energy technologies and increase widespread deployment of safe, reliable and efficient solar electricity nationwide. The federal funding for this opportunity will likely range from $500,000 to $1,500,000 with a minimum 10%-20% required awardee cost share.

Informational Webinar December 10, 2014

Submission Deadline for Concept Papers January 7, 2015 at 5:00pm ET

Submission Deadline for Full Applications March 12, 2015 at 5:00pm ET

Submission Deadline for Replies to Reviewer Comments April 22, 2015 at 5:00pm ET