Newsletter: Renewable Energy Helps Michigan

This newsletter was originally published on January 24, 2018.

Renewable Energy Helps Michigan

In 2008, Michigan passed energy legislation that required big utility companies to generate a certain percentage of their electricity from clean, renewable energy.

Fast-forward to 2018: Michigan gets more than 10 percent of our electricity from clean, renewable sources, like wind and solar, and new energy laws that took effect last year put us on track to increase this number to 15 percent by 2021.

In “State needs sound energy regulations,” Jan. 11, Jason Hayes of the Mackinac Center argues lawmakers should dismantle the renewable energy standard without giving a reason. He rightly notes clean energy is market competitive due to advances in technology and declining costs. He is also right that clean energy is here to stay.

We need a renewable energy standard because Michigan’s utilities are regulated monopolies. They might take modest steps toward building more clean energy on their own, but without a requirement, there are incentives which might encourage them to stick with fossil fuels.

Ratepayers need strong policies like the renewable energy standard to ensure big utility companies invest in the lowest cost energy for their customers — and the lowest-cost energy also happens to be the cleanest. A recent analysis by Lazard Investment Bank found that clean, renewable energy, like wind and solar, is now cheaper than coal and even natural gas. That’s without any subsidies.

Despite declining costs for renewable energy, strong renewable energy policies are still necessary to guarantee continued investment. A growing number of large companies are requesting access to 100 percent renewable energy to power their operations. That’s because prices for clean, renewable energy are much more stable than other sources of energy, making it a safe long-term investment.

Originally posted as a letter to the editor in the Detroit News.

Energy and Mobility Industries Promise Economic Growth

According to the Michigan Economic Center, Michigan is well-positioned for job growth in six emerging sectors, including energy and mobility.

“We’ve got a chance to play and lead in these growing areas,” said John Austin of The Michigan Economic Center, an independent policy and action organization for the state, focusing on its economy.

The report, released January 11, says by focusing state policy on these sectors, Michigan can replace lost jobs, particularly in manufacturing. The state just recorded its 9th straight year of job growth; however, that represents about 80% of the jobs lost since the Great Recession and Michigan has 320,000 fewer residents employed now than in 2000.

The clean energy marketplace is already worth more than $1.35 trillion globally, and more than $200 billion in the US.

Revolutions in transportation and mobility represent another opportunity for job growth.

“We have the innovation and ability to lead in these coming sectors that other places just don’t have,” Austin said.

Michigan’s automakers and engineering centers already are well on the way to transportation and mobility development. And the state already has 22% of its workforce employed in agriculture and food development.

To leverage these economic opportunities, Austin recommends investing $20 million and leveraging matched investment from private investors.

In 2018, Clean Energy is Cheap Energy

According to The Hill, “clean energy is now cheap energy.”

Fossil fuel extraction is becoming increasingly expensive, and it has given way to cheaper and more flexible technologies including wind and solar. competitive with fossil fuels by 2020

The Hill predicts the following shifts that will change investment decisions, business models, household usage, employment patterns and politics:

  • Electric vehicle growth will continue rapidly
  • Wind and solar prices will continue to decline
  • The market for coal and oil is drastically decreasing

These shifts will result in clean energy becoming more desirable for ratepayers and corporate purchasers.

And internationally, the International Renewable Energy Agency reports, prices for clean energy will be competitive with prices for fossil fuels by 2020.


Renewing Members:

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Michigan Policy, Regulation & Utilities

  • The Michigan Public Service Commission received plans from thirteen utilities on how they will pass their savings from the new federal tax law on to ratepayers. The MPSC will now begin the process of reviewing each company’s ideas.
  • A group representing large energy users in Michigan says federal tax reforms and environmental rollbacks “alter the economics” of coal plants owned by DTE Energy, and argues that regulators should reject the utility’s plan for a $1 billion gas plant to replace them.
  • Governor Snyder touted Michigan as world leader for mobility.
  • The Michigan auditor general launched a preliminary survey of Michigan Agency for Energy.
  • Advocacy groups in Michigan released a detailed plan to decommission Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline.
  • A Michigan House Committee heard DTE shutoff complaints from smart meter critics.
  • Consumers Energy is seeking public input while developing its integrated resource plan.

Michigan Energy Leaders



National Energy Stories

  • After solar trade case petitioners Suniva and SolarWorld sent a letter to President Trump, saying they are “grateful to hear the President understands the seriousness of the problem” posed by cheap solar imports, the President issued a 30% tariff on solar panel imports.
  • The U.S. House of Representatives began hearings on the PURPA Modernization Act of 2017.
  • Clean-energy developers in search of tax-equity deals are struggling to find financing thanks to the federal tax overhaul.
  • FERC Commissioner Neil Chatterjee says the agency’s decision to reject an Energy Department proposal to subsidize coal and nuclear plants demonstrates the agency’s independence from the Trump administration.
  • Analysts report that the federal tax reform is placing at least $3 billion in clean energy financing deals on hold.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is planning to press the Trump administration to raise the federal gas tax by 25 cents per gallon to fund the administration’s expected infrastructure proposal.
  • According to Vincent DeVito, energy counselor to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the Trump administration is working to expand renewable energy with the aim of increasing energy independence.
  • Senators unveiled a legislative proposal to allow state oversight of oil and gas development on federal lands, which they say will address federal backlogs and eliminate permitting delays and duplicative regulations.
  • More equipment and crews are heading to Puerto Rico to boost grid development.
  • EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told associates he is interested in seeking the attorney general job should it become available. This could result in a shake-up at the EPA.
  • According to Bloomberg, President Trump’s offshore oil plan faces opposition on all coasts.
  • Nearly two-thirds of coal-producing states lost coal mining jobs last year.

National Energy Leaders

Michigan Energy Events
Exclusive: Institute for Energy Innovation and the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council are hosting a Solar 101 Lunch & Learn on February 6. Please note the new date; this event was originally scheduled for January 25. This event is only open to Michigan state legislators, legislative staff, and Michigan EIBC member companies. Register here.

Michigan EIBC will host a Michigan Energy Forum on solar at member company Varnum’sGrand Rapids office on March 5. Stay tuned for registration details!

Michigan EIBC’s 6th Annual Member Meeting is scheduled for April 30 in Lansing, followed by a Lobby Day on May 1. Mark your calendars!

Michigan EIBC will host a Michigan Energy Forum on energy efficiency and lighting on June 11 at member company CLEAResult’s office in Detroit. Stay tuned for details!

National Energy Events
EUCI invites you to the 6th Annual Utilities and Data Centers Conference, January 30-31, in Austin, TX. The conference will provide perspectives, case studies, stories from the entire data center “ecosystem” and share best practices as to how the development of smart cities is affecting the data center landscape, what data centers need from their utilities to ensure they are providing the best product to their enterprise customers and how utilities are attracting and retaining data centers through mission-critical reliability standards. Register here.

Mark your calendar for the 5th National Conference on Next Generation Demand Response on February 7-8, in San Diego, California. Learn more and register here.

With more than 650 attendees, MES is the region’s largest energy efficiency event and an unparalleled networking opportunity. February 7-9, MEEA will be holding their annual 2018 Midwest Energy Solutions Conference at the Chicago Hilton & Towers. MES is about celebrating accomplishments in energy efficiency, as well as laying out the efficiency program and policy landscape for the coming year. Register here.

EUCI invites you to the Net Energy Metering (NEM) and Utility Solar Rates Summit March 1-2 in Nashville, TN. The summit will explore common NEM rate structures and many alternatives under consideration and examine the array of options that utilities and regulatory commissions are looking to as a means for striking the necessary balance between promoting the advancement of solar policy and development, facilitating appropriate rate recovery, ensuring grid reliability and enabling consumer choice. Register here. Members, check out your inboxes for an exclusive member-only discount!

EUCI invites you to its Renewable Energy 101 Forum, March 12-13, in Portland, Oregon. Learn more and register here.

EUCI is hosting two courses on smart metering: Smart Metering 101 and Advanced Smart Meeting courses on March 19 and March 20, respectively.

Announcements and Opportunities:
Applications are open for the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) Grant until January 31. This grant is available to fund the replacement of old diesel vehicles with new, cleaner vehicles Learn more and apply here.

The Michigan Battle of the Buildings is April 18. Join the awards and recognition program for energy use reduction today! The competition is open to all Michigan area commercial, industrial, non-profit, educational institutions & multi-family buildings. Any building type except single family residential. Registration ends March 31.

Nominations are now being accepted for the Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards to honor Michigan organizations and individuals for their commitment to responsible energy production and consumption. The Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards celebrate outstanding achievements by recognizing people and organizations that have taken firm, meaningful actions to stop energy waste. Last year, energy solutions honored at the awards ranged from installing energy-efficient, state-of-the-art heating, cooling and lighting systems to common-sense, lower-cost steps like caulking windows and adding insulation. Nominations can be submitted online at through March 31with winners to be announced at a celebration in the fall.