- Newsletter (395)
Welcome to the weekly newsletter of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council (Michigan EIBC), the business voice for advanced energy in Michigan. Here’s what’s new this week:
‘Right to Charge’ Legislation Introduced
New legislation introduced to the Michigan House of Representatives this week would remove a potential legal obstacle to the ability of many businesses, such as shopping centers and gas stations, to add EV chargers and access federal funding.
Dubbed the “Right to Charge” bill, House Bill 4706, introduced by Rep. Sharon MacDonell (D-Troy) with 19 co-sponsors, would make it clear that businesses that sell EV charging services do not automatically meet the definition of “electric utility” under Michigan law. Entities that are considered electric utilities must pay fees and meet other requirements that would be logistically impossible for many small businesses to meet, so the bill would remove that potential barrier to adding EV charging infrastructure.
“Just as we set up gas stations to cater to conventional vehicles, Michigan should also position ourselves for the future by serving the growing number of Michiganders with electric vehicles on the road, which will in turn help grow Michigan’s electric vehicle sector,” Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman said in a statement, as reported by the Center Square.
In a letter to Michigan House Transportation, Mobility and Infrastructure Committee Chair Nate Shannon (D-Sterling Heights), Sherman, MICHauto Director Paul Corbett and Clean Fuels Michigan Executive Director Jane McCurry requested a committee hearing on the legislation, saying HB 4706 “will further demonstrate Michigan’s leadership in the second automotive revolution.”
Passing this bill is very important for Michigan to make the most use of federal funding for EV charging infrastructure build-out coming from the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program. Michigan has a $110 million plan, approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation, to use NEVI funds to install EV chargers at at least 50-mile intervals along the state’s designated Alternative Fuel Corridors (AFCs), including Michigan’s share of the recently-announced Binational EV Corridor with Canada.
But funds from NEVI to build EV chargers at businesses can only be used for businesses that can legally sell electricity on a per-kilowatt hour basis. Because current Michigan law is unclear whether businesses can sell EV charging services on a per-kWh basis without being licensed as public utilities, the bill is necessary to clear up that ambiguity and ensure that NEVI funds can be deployed to as many qualified businesses as possible.
Federal Rule to Tackle Interconnection Delays Coming Soon
One of the biggest challenges to the growth of renewable energy in the U.S. has been delays and congestion in the process of getting projects approved to connect to the grid. But the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is expected to soon issue a final rule that attempts to change the interconnection process to speed things up.
“When it comes to interconnection queue reforms, that is my number one top priority,” FERC Chairman Willie Phillips said in an interview with Reuters. The amount of interconnection requests from renewable energy projects has grown to an “unprecedented” amount, FERC staff recently said, leading to a backlog of 1,730 GW of utility-scale solar, wind and storage projects in the interconnection queues of transmission system operators, up from 1,350 GW at the end of 2021, according to data reported by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in March.
FERC’s pending final rule could be very different from a proposed rule it released last year, E&E News reported. That proposed rule would require regional transmission organizations to study interconnection requests in groups, rather than one by one, and also would make reforms to prioritize requests from projects that are commercially viable over those from more speculative projects.
Some important contributing factors to interconnection delays, however, are outside the scope of the proposed rule, such as the difficulties grid operators have had hiring engineers to review interconnection requests, the E&E story said.
Visualizing Michigan EIBC’s EV Manufacturing Growth
Manufacturing of EVs and EV batteries is a major growth area in Michigan’s economy, with the potential to create 56,000 direct jobs and thousands more jobs in related industries, according to a recent study from World Resources Institute. Now, a visualization from MLive shows the six major EV projects announced since 2022, totaling $18 billion in investment.
MLive’s report includes not only this map but also the timeline, number of potential jobs, level of state support and other key details of each of these six projects.
A 2022 study from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory identified Michigan as one of just three states in the top tier of battery manufacturing capacity. Federal grants and manufacturing production credits from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will further shore up this capacity. Michigan EIBC and our trade organization member Advanced Energy United recently published toolkit guides to these federal opportunities, including those for EV battery manufacturing.
Advanced Battery Concepts is a battery technology development company focused on the advancement of large-format, energy storage solutions. They have developed a broad portfolio of patents and trade-secrets, termed GreenSeal® technology, which enables improved performance at lower production cost for traditional lead-acid batteries with extendibility into other advanced chemistries.
Inman Solar is a Developer, EPC and Owner/Operator of commercial and small utility scale solar PV projects.
Madison Energy Investments
Madison Energy Investments develops, constructs, owns and operates distributed generation assets within the commercial and industrial (C&I) and small utility-scale sectors.
Oracle Energy & Water offers a complete suite of operational applications and cloud services for electric, natural gas, and water utilities world-wide that automate core operational processes and enable compliance in a dynamic and changing industry. As part of Oracle Energy & Water, Opower incorporates industry-leading behavioral energy efficiency, behavioral demand response, and customer engagement capabilities, including a focus on affordability and equity. The company’s solutions have helped save thirty-two terawatt-hours of energy and more than $3 billion in energy bills.
Founded in 2017, Renewable Properties specializes in developing and investing in small-scale utility and commercial solar energy projects throughout the U.S. Led by experienced renewable energy professionals with development and investment experience, Renewable Properties works closely with communities, developers, landowners, utilities and financial institutions looking to invest in large solar energy systems. For more information about Renewable Properties, visit www.renewprop.com.
Michigan Energy News
- House Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit) says that policies to move Michigan toward clean energy must be paired with policies to address “energy poverty.”
- The MPSC’s Summer Energy Outlook sees more favorable energy prices for consumers this summer compared to last year.
- Rural community opposition to wind farms continues to be a major barrier for Gov. Whitmer’s clean energy agenda, the Port Huron Times Herald reports.
- “Senate Bills 152 and 153 will give people more choices in how they power their home or small business by bringing them the option to invest in community solar projects as a clean, affordable and accessible energy source,” state Sens. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) and Ed McBroom (R-Waucedah Township) write in an op-ed in the Detroit News.
- A joint venture between Chevron U.S.A. Inc. and Brightmark Fund Holdings LLC plans five new anaerobic digestion dairy farm projects in western Michigan.
National Energy News
- The North American wildfires have reignited calls for President Biden to declare a climate emergency.
- The number of states and localities adopting building performance efficiency standards is swiftly rising, according to a report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
- New market rules and business models are needed to encourage the growth of virtual power plants, according to a report from Guidehouse.
- The IRA, with its provisions incentivizing manufacturing, has led clean energy manufacturers and suppliers to show interest in providing jobs to coal communities and dislocated miners, United Mine Workers of America Chief of Staff Phil Smith says in an interview.
- Michigan EIBC member Phoenix Contact introduces a new line of power modules for high-power systems, such as e-mobility infrastructure.
Attention Michigan EIBC members: if you have a job announcement you would like in the newsletter, please send a paragraph describing the position and a link to apply to Matt Bandyk at email@example.com. Please include in the email a specific end date for the job posting.
The Stakeholder Relations Intern will work within AES Clean Energy’s Stakeholder Relations team in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, and many other MISO & ERCOT territory states. This is an exciting opportunity to learn and apply industry-leading engagement strategies to empower communities and advance a carbon-free future. This role will support AES’ strategic renewable energy related stakeholder engagement from drafting communications and collateral materials to strategic planning, social impact development, and local community engagement. This role will report to the Manager of Stakeholder Relations MISO & ERCOT and is an excellent opportunity for someone who is planning a career in the renewable energy industry.
The Public Policy Intern is responsible for tracking legislation and other policies, as well as providing support to the team on ChargePoint’s legislative objectives throughout the Midwestern US. While this position is focused on ChargePoint’s policy engagement across the Midwest, the Policy Intern will also support the team with the development of policy briefing material to support policy engagement across the US on an as needed basis. Must be goal-motivated, adaptable in a fast-growing technology company environment, a strategic thinker, and detail-oriented. Successful candidates will have an educational background in public policy or prior work experience working with elected officials and state agencies. Knowledge of electric vehicle, energy or climate policy is preferred but not required.
Highland Electric Fleets
Highland is looking for a Proposal Writer who combines strong project management skills, exceptional writing ability, and demonstrated grant/RFP success.
The Proposal Writer will be responsible for: tracking electrification-related RFPs across Highland’s target geographies, as well as electrification-related grants at the local, state, and federal levels; project managing the grant and RFP process from start to finish; compiling relevant information from various departments; coordinating with external partners on applications; and drafting and submitting the applications and proposals.
Michigan and National Energy Events
On July 18-20, PlugVolt will be hosting Battery Seminar 2023 in Plymouth, Mich., featuring an entire day of in-depth technical tutorials on cutting-edge battery research presented by industry subject matter experts and world renowned professors from Top 50 U.S. Universities. The next two days will include complementary industry updates provided by speakers from Automotive and Grid Storage OEMs, major battery manufacturers and global Tier 1 system developers and suppliers. Attendees will also get an exclusive opportunity to tour INTERTEK Battery Testing Center of Excellence in Plymouth, MI (USA) firsthand, ask questions to resident experts, and enjoy some light appetizers and beverages while networking with industry peers. Register here.
Save the dates Aug. 6-9 for the Mid-America Regulatory Conference (MARC) Annual Meeting at the JW Marriott in downtown Grand Rapids.
Organizations currently have the opportunity to work with a grad student from the University of Michigan School for Environment & Sustainability (SEAS) for their Master’s Projects. In these projects, “students work on research teams with client organizations and faculty advisors to address complex environmental issues and design innovative, impactful products,” according to SEAS. Learn more here. Proposals for projects are due by September.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Clean Energy Innovator Fellowship program is hosting two fellowships for recent graduates and energy professionals at the Michigan Public Service Commission. The projects these fellows will be working on are, respectively, “Incentivizing Resilience through Distributed Energy Resource Expansion” and “Resiliency Metrics, Valuation, and Application to Undergrounding Backlot Electrical Lines.” Innovator Fellow applications are now open and are due June 12 at 4 p.m. EST.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to expand the weatherization assistance program utilizing bipartisan infrastructure law funding for multi-family dwellings. The five-month award begins on May 1 and ends Sept. 30, 2023, with the total available amount being $1 million dollars. Successful applicants may be awarded funding annually through at least Sept. 30, 2028, based upon funding availability and acceptable performance. For more information or to apply, visit the EGrAMS website.
Consumers Energy Company has announced it will seek competitive bids in response to a RFP from participants in the MISO Energy Market in accordance with the Company’s expansion of the Voluntary Green Pricing (“VGP”) Program. With this RFP, Consumers Energy will solicit proposals for solar and wind generation projects, separate and distinct from the ongoing Consumers Energy 2022 IRP RFP for solar generation projects. RFP documents are available here and applications are due June 30.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Buildings Upgrade Prize (Buildings UP) is offering more than $22 million in cash prizes and technical assistance to teams across America with winning ideas to accelerate widespread, equitable energy efficiency and building electrification upgrades. Follow Buildings UP on HeroX.com for all prize-related updates. Phase 1 submissions are due by July 18.