Newsletter: SB 375 Passes House Unanimously; Fed Policies Poised to Harm Advanced Energy Industry; Michigan EIBC Q3 Review

This newsletter was originally published on December 13, 2017.

Michigan EIBC-Backed Anaerobic Digester Legislation Passes Unanimously, House Energy Final 2017 Meeting

The Michigan legislature closed out the final session week by passing SB 375 sponsored by Sen. Darwin Booher (R-Evart) unanimously. Sen. Booher introduced the bill at Michigan EIBC’s request to allow anaerobic digesters to access PACE financing. After a series of hearings featuring MI EIBC members Michigan CAT, Lean and Green Michigan and Petros Partners, the bill moved unanimously through both chambers and now continues to Governor Snyder for a signature.

House Energy closed out the year with a hearing on the controversial HB 4968 sponsored by Chairman Glenn. The chairman yielded the gavel to take the stand and explain his legislature. There were many questions from legislators on both sides of the aisle about the process for this legislation questioning why the bill was in front of the energy committee instead of the local government committee. There were also questions about substance, in particular a substitute that seemed to push more associations into opposition. There was broad opposition from groups representing local government to agriculture associations.


Federal Policies Poised to harm Advanced Energy Industry

As the year winds to a close, federal policies are being considered that, if enacted, could impact the advanced energy industry.

In Congress, legislators are working to update the tax code. The House and Senate tax bills that are currently being considered have worrying implications on the future of advanced energy. Certain provisions in the House bill could devastate the wind industry by cutting back the wind Production Tax Credit and base-erosion (BEAT) proposal, which would compromise many jobs in the wind industry. The final version of the tax bill is expected to pass as early as this Friday. Advanced Energy Economy has circulated a letter urging members of congress to protect the advanced energy industry in the final version of the tax bill.

At the same time, President Trump is considering recommendations made by the International Trade Commission on tariffs for imported solar modules. At the final trade hearing last week, more than 60 witnesses argued for and against solar tariffs, and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) unveiled a plan to grow U.S. solar manufacturing without tariffs.

The President is expected to make a final decision on the proposed tariffs early next year.

As the end of the year approaches, Michigan EIBC will take a look back at what the organization and members have accomplished. Over the month of December, the newsletter will take you through the highlights of 2017. This week covers the third quarter.



In July, Michigan EIBC picked up the pace at the Michigan Public Service Commission, submitting reply comments on the revisions to the utility code of conduct on July 28, and comments on electric and alternative fuel vehicles on the 31st. Dan Scripps, then President of the Institute for Energy Innovation, was quoted by the Alpena News for a story on the growth of renewables as part of the state and nation’s energy mix on July 3.

Michigan EIBC’s member companies shared a lot of great news in July:



In August, Michigan EIBC continued to raise the voice of the industry in MPSC cases, including attending and participating in both the August 3rd Distribution System Planning event and August 9th EV and Alternative Fuel Vehicle technical conference. Many member companies participated in the conference. And on August 31, Michigan EIBC formally intervened in the DTE CON case.

Michigan EIBC also grew its initiative programs in August by developing a Wind Initiative strategy and beginning regular wind policy calls.

In August, Michigan EIBC members were active:



Michigan EIBC’s Wind Initiative kicked into high gear in September, with a tour of Ventower Industries on September 15, and a tour of Apex Clean Energy on September 18. On the 19th, Michigan EIBC attended and participated in the MPSC IRP meeting in Marquette, and hosted a UP Energy Roundtable the same day. And on the 25th Michigan EIBC and IEI hosted the MEC4: Powering Mobility Conference.

At the MPSC, Michigan EIBC submitted comments on the draft distribution system plans submitted by both Consumers Energy and DTE. At the legislature, the Senate Local Government Committee held hearing on Michigan EIBC-backed SB 375 to expand PACE to include anaerobic digesters. Michigan EIBC President Liesl Eichler Clark, Kyle Prazinski of member company Petros Partners Financing; and Kevin O’Connell of member company Michigan CAT, testified in favor of the bill.

In September, Michigan EIBC led the Michigan rollout for the Clean Jobs Midwest report. The Clean Jobs Midwest Report included a number of worker profiles, including Samantha Frick of Michigan EIBC Member ChargePoint, Suzanne Neumann of Michigan EIBC Member The Green Panel, and Ria Lester of WindSecure. The good news coverage continued when Michigan EIBC president Liesl Eichler Clark was quoted in a Crain’s Detroit Business article on September 8 on issues connected to the Michigan Public Service Commission’s efforts to develop the structure for the Integrated Resources Plans required under PA 341. And, on September 17, Liesl’s Drive Electric Week OpEd was published in the Detroit News.

Michigan EIBC grew its advanced lighting membership when the Michigan Solid State Lighting Association (MSSLA) voted to transfer its assets to Michigan EIBC in September. This deal also paved the way for Michigan EIBC’s Advanced Lighting Initiative, which is currently in the works.

Michigan EIBC members were active in September as well:

Michigan Energy News:

  • The Michigan EIBC-backed bill, SB 375, which would expand PACE to include anaerobic digesters, was reported out of the House Agriculture Commission last week with recommendation for a vote on the House floor.
  • A Christian Coalition official says renewable energy is “about independence.”
  • EPA administrator Scott Pruitt pledged to support the National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions lab in Ann Arbor and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
  • Legislation creating three DEQ oversight panels moved out of a Senate committee despite strong opposition from the Michigan League of Conservation Voters.
  • The Michigan Public Service Commission ordered DTE Energy to identify unused power lines in Detroit following the accidental death of a child last year by electrocution from an inactive line. 
  • Independent renewable energy producers will appeal a Michigan Public Service Commission decision on payments.
  • General Motors received a $2.6 million check from Consumers Energy for energy efficiency measures.
  • DTE developed a first-of-its-kind portable energy option.
  • Michigan Technological University students partnered with the Upper Peninsula Solar Technical Assistance Team (UPSTART) to research and present the results of a community solar feasibility study to Village of L’Anse community members.
  • In Huron county, the debate on solar energy continues.
  • Michigan EIBC member company, NextEra Energy, is looking to build a 156 MW wind project in Michigan’s Thumb region, which would be the company’s fourth in the state.
  • New wind turbines are being met with mixed reviews in Juniata Township.
  • An anti-wind group filed a complaint against DTE, and Huron County Planners were reminded that they do not have jurisdiction over complaints about wind developers
  • Disagreements break out over future wind turbines in the UP.
  • In Midland, wind turbines could provide many local advantages. 
  • A pipeline safety panel in Michigan recommended temporarily shutting down the Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac until inspections and coating gap repairs are completed.
  • The new MTA compressed natural gas fueling station will soon be open to public.
    The Fermi 2 nuclear power plant is back to full power after repair.
  • Ford Motor Company said it will now build its next generation electric vehicle in Mexico rather than at the Flat Rock plant in Michigan.
  • A General Motors executive says electric vehicle sales would be impacted if Congress eliminates a $7,500 EV tax credit.


National Energy News:

  • Republican senators met with President Trump to push for a rollback of the federal biofuel mandate, an idea he is reportedly open to.
  • The U.S. EPA will hold a second round of hearings on repealing the Clean Power Plan.
  • Federal regulators ruled that states can’t block energy efficiency from competing in regional electricity markets. 
  • A study used by the Energy Department to justify subsidies for coal and nuclear plants is deeply flawed, says a consultant for the DOE.
  • Energy Secretary Rick Perry grants a request by FERC’s new chairman to give the agency 30 more days to decide on a DOE proposal to subsidize coal and nuclear plants.
  • At the North American Climate Summit in Chicago, mayors from 51 cities around the world signed a climate charter, a nonbinding pact in which the cities agree to keep working toward the Paris accord’s goals of reducing greenhouse emissions.
  • Some researchers and health care professionals say smart grid-enabled switches designed to make homes more energy efficient and grid-responsive could have an added benefit of helping seniors age in place.
  • A Department of Energy report shows U.S. solar output grew 47% during the first nine months of 2017.
  • Changing wind patterns due to climate change could decrease the output of turbines, with a 17% drop predicted in the central U.S., according to two recent studies.
  • Energy storage deployments are up 46% compared to a year ago, according to a new report.
  • Car-sharing companies like Zipcar are pushing cities to expand their electric vehicle charging infrastructure and inspiring users to buy their own EVs.


Michigan Energy Events:

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

SAVE THE DATE: Michigan EIBC’s 6th Annual Member Meeting is scheduled for April 30, 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:

The 2nd Smart Cities International Symposium and Exhibition, January 17-18 in Chicago, brings together municipal professionals and thought leaders to explore technology advances and key lessons to date in achieving the Smart City vision. 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 its Renewable Energy 101 Forum, March 12-13, in Portland, Oregon. Learn more and register here.


Additional Resources:

The video of the 2017 Michigan Energy Innovators Gala is LIVE on the Michigan EIBC website. Check it out here!