Newsletter: Rooftop Solar Provides Net Benefit to Grid – IEI Report

This newsletter was originally published on June 30, 2017.

IEI Report: Rooftop Solar Systems Provide Economic Benefits to Michigan’s Electric Grid

Utility customers with rooftop solar systems are providing a net benefit to Michigan’s electric grid and should not be overcharged to support it. That is among the findings of an analysis by the Institute for Energy Innovation (IEI) entitled Solar Energy in Michigan: The Economic Impact of Distributed Generation (DG) on Non-Solar Customers, which was completed in advance of a study to be undertaken by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC).

According to the report, the vast majority studies on the value of solar conclude that customers with solar DG systems who participate in ‘net metering’ programs help to all utility customers and the electric grid as a whole.

In an effort to support the development of the MPSC study, IEI conducted a meta-analysis that summarizes the national data related to evaluating the value of solar to the overall grid and outlines best practices for compensating net metering customers. The IEI evaluated more than 40 solar value studies from across the nation as well as nine additional studies not included in any previous meta-analyses.

The studies found that solar DG both reduces demand for power from the utility and provides power to the grid when the systems generate more power than is used at a residential or commercial site, and that this surplus power is generated at or near peak times when the cost to the utility of procuring additional power is most expensive. Finally, the studies found that net metering represents an attempt to balance the true costs and benefits of the energy being produced and that which is consumed in a way that is simple, fair, and convenient for both the utility and its customers. Any new rate structure covering distributed generation systems should fully compensate customers for the value their systems provide.

Based on these findings, the report encourages the MPSC to:

  1. Conduct a robust analysis of the value of solar using the standard valuation methodology developed by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) to allow for a transparent accounting and applies-to-apples comparison of the costs and benefits of solar DG with other studies, consistent with a recent MPSC order that called for issues associated with distributed generation to be examined as part of the MPSC’s distributed generation and net metering study;
  2. Recognize that the majority of value-of-solar studies found that customers participating in net metering programs represent a net benefit to the grid;
  3. Develop rate structures that fully-compensate solar DG customers for the value of the energy they produce; and
  4. Ensure that stakeholders have access to location-specific utility data as part of the development of new rate structures for customers with distributed generation systems, allowing for full and fair consideration of location factors that can affect solar valuations.

You can read the report in its entirety here.

2017 Michigan CHP Conference connects energy users with technical, financial, and industry resources

The 2017 Michigan Combined Heat and Power Conference took place this week in Grand Rapids, bringing together industry leaders, corporate purchasers, Department of Energy technical experts, Michigan Energy Office representatives, lenders and financial specialists, CHP policy experts, and building owners and facility managers for a full day of networking and technical presentations.

The event, which was organized by the Institute for Energy Innovation, the Michigan Energy Office at the Michigan Agency for Energy, The Right Place, and the U.S. Department of Energy Technical Assistance Partnership – Midwest, consisted of a primer on CHP technology and its applications; sector-specific case studies in the health care and food processing sectors that showcased how companies and institutions save money on energy costs by installing CHP systems; and information on available technical resources and financing options. The event also featured a lunchtime update on the Michigan CHP Roadmap currently being developed for the Michigan Energy Office.

Event sponsors included Michigan CAT, Clarke Energy, Lipten Energy Solutions, Somes, Nick & Company, GEM Energy, and Siemens.

New Members:

Franklin Energy
With over two decades in the energy efficiency landscape, Franklin Energy is the industry expert in program administration and implementation for utility clients across the nation. We pinpoint value-driven solutions and deliver goal-focused results for ranging program markets, from business to residential to everything in between.

Generate Fremont Digester, LLC
Generate Capital is a specialty finance company that builds, owns, operates, and finances infrastructure assets involving the world’s critical resources: energy, water, agriculture and basic materials.

HME Ahrens-Fox
HME Ahrens-Fox has been behind the design and manufacture of the best fire apparatus in the industry since 1971. Our 1871 cab and chassis is an industry standard and serves as the foundation for many of our best fire apparatus. The HME Ahrens-Fox difference is built on experience, innovation and a drive to produce the best apparatus available in the industry. Based in Michigan, home of the auto industry, we are one of the few vertically integrated and independent suppliers in the market today.  We can design, engineer and manufacture entire vehicles using the best technologies available.

Even though we create highly-engineered products, we also know that our business is ultimately about the people our products serve. By listening to the experiences of fire chiefs and fire fighters across the country, we’ve learned what works, what doesn’t – and what is absolutely critical to saving lives and property while protecting fire fighters. That’s why for decade after decade we’ve been dedicated to designing the most efficient and toughest custom fire apparatus in the firefighting industry. HME Ahrens-Fox fire and rescue apparatus can be found around the United States, and around the world, designed and configured to serve people in a host of specific environments.

Michigan Energy News:

  • Utilities in Michigan are showing why it is economically valuable to transition to advanced energy.
  • The EPA ranked Jackson 4th in Energy Star Top Small Cities.
  • Novi won gold in the Green Communities Challenge.
  • Major businesses signed on to Detroit’s 2030 District Initiative, which hopes to cut carbon emissions by 50% by 2030.
  • Researchers and advocates highlight opportunities for advanced energy in northern Michigan.
  • According to the director of Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology Lab, a new apprenticeship initiative approved by President Trump could help retrain coal workers for the growing solar industry.
  • Michigan EIBC member company Cypress Creek Renewables told officials in eastern Michigan that it wants to develop as many as 15 20-acre solar projects there.
  • A $2 million estate for sale in western Michigan gets almost all of its energy from a solar array.
  • The Coldwater City Council will move ahead on a solar park project.
  • A firm has been hired to determine what went wrong with the Lowell Energy AD (LEAD) biodigester near Grand Rapids.
  • Michigan EIBC member company Michigan CAT built the new digester at the Detroit Zoo.
  • about the future of Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline were set to be published.
  • Advocates tout the benefits of — and potential funding opportunity for — electric school buses.

News From Washington:

National Grid and Efficiency News:

National Solar News:

National Wind News:

  • As Great Plains states continue to adopt wind energy, opponents question its reliability and experts say there isn’t cause for concern.
  • President Trump criticized wind energy during a speech this week in Iowa, a state that has bipartisan support for the wind industry.

National Fossil Fuel News:

National Bioenergy News:

National Technology and Market News:

  • The University of Texas at Austin is developing low-cost window coatings that control how sunlight enters buildings through windows. By individually blocking infrared and visible components of sunlight, UT Austin’s design would allow building occupants to better control the amount of heat and light that enters the structure, saving heating, cooling, and lighting costs.
  • Energy, technology and transportation industry leaders released a report urging President Trump to maintain funding for energy innovation research.

National Mobility News:

  • Volvo Cars LLC announced the launch of Polestar, an electric vehicle.

Michigan Energy Events:

The Energy Alliance Group of Michigan is hosting a program entitled “PACE in West Michigan – Making Building Efficiency Upgrades Affordable” on July 12 in Grand Rapids. Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing is now available in the City of Wyoming, and is under consideration in the cities of Grand Rapids, Walker, Grandville, East Grand Rapids and Kentwood. This event will provide information detailing how to use this new financing option for upgrading the energy efficiency of commercial, industrial, multi-family and non-profit buildings. For more information or to RSVP, click here.

The 2017 PlugVolt Battery Seminar is scheduled for July 18-20 in Ann Arbor. Industry leaders, policy decision-makers, and key stakeholders from more than 80 companies are expected to gather at the PlugVolt Battery Seminar to learn more about the challengers and opportunities for energy storage systems in grid/utility storage and automotive applications. Register here.

The MPSC will be holding its first Performance Based Regulation (PBR) stakeholders discussion meeting on July 24th from 2:00-5:00 pm at the Lake Michigan Hearing room at the MPSC office at 7109 W. Saginaw, Lansing, MI 48917.  Section 6u of PA 341 directs the Commission to complete a study of PBR and submit it to the Governor and Legislators by April 20, 2018.  The legislative language references collaboration with stakeholders for this study.  The MPSC is requesting input from Michigan utilities as well as other interested parties regarding PBR. Please RSVP to

The MPSC will host a technical conference on the future of electric vehicle charging on August 9 at the public service commission office, 7109 W. Saginaw Highway, Lansing. Subject matter experts interested in participating in a panel are asked to submit a letter of interest, resume and summary of expertise to Al Freeman at the commission offices or by e-mail to

SAVE THE DATE: The Powering Mobility conference will take place on September 25 at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. The event, which is the 4th Annual Michigan Energy Future Conference, will bring together leaders from industry, government, utilities, finance, and academe working at the nexus of advanced mobility and vehicle electrification.

The 1st Annual Sustainable Detroit Forum is scheduled for October 25. The event will consist of interactive learning, keynotes, and short presentations. Proposals for presentations will be accepted for Sustainable ProjectsPersonal Green Stories, and Lessons Learned/Greatest Failures. Proposals are due July 14.

National Energy Events:

Intersolar North America, the most attended solar exhibition in North America, will take place July 11-13 in San Francisco. Since its founding, Intersolar has become a key industry platform for manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, service providers, and partners of the solar energy.

The National Energy Conference for Educators is July 16-20 in Milwaukee. This event brings together educators that are passionate about bringing energy education to their classrooms. In five interactive days in Milwaukee, the conference provides teachers with the most up-to-date information on all aspects of energy including the science of energy, sources of energy, transportation, electricity, efficiency and environmental and economic impacts. For more information or to register, see the NEED website.

The 2017 National Energy Codes Conference is July 17-20 in Pittsburgh. This event is the only national conference dedicated solely to energy codes. The theme this year is “Bridges to the Future.” The conference will focus on achieving compliance but sessions will also cover development, adoption, policy, tools and research. For more information, see the Department of Energy website.

Energy Storage North America will take place August 8-10 in San Diego. As the largest conference and expo for grid-connected energy storage in North America, Energy Storage North America brings together utilities, regulators, municipal leaders, project developers, investors, systems integrators, and commercial and industrial customers for top-tier networking and information sharing.

Solar Power International will take place September 10-13 in Las Vegas. Powered by the Solar Energy Industries Association and the Smart Electric Power Alliance, SPI is the largest and fastest growing solar show in North America.

Additional Resources:

A web site from the Michigan Public Service Commission provides details on the laws, which took effect on April 20. For more information, or to sign up for notifications, visit

Google’s free online tool, Project Sunroof, now shows which homes have already installed rooftop solar panels.

World Resources Institute recently published an Implementation Guide for Utilities, outlining best practices in designing renewable energy projects to meet large energy customers needs.

The Michigan Energy Office is offering rebates to eligible applicants to upgrade existing public streetlights with LED lights through the Exterior LED Lighting Rebate Program. The purpose of this program is to encourage energy waste reduction and promote community vitality by accelerating the transition to energy efficient LED lighting. MEO will match utility rebates up to $0.35/W reduced. Applicants with no utility rebate will be awarded at a rate of $0.35/W reduced. For more information or to apply, click here.