Newsletter: SEIA CEO to Headline Energy Innovators Gala, Solar Tax Clarification Bill Introduced, GR PACE District Launched

This newsletter was originally published on October 20, 2017.

SEIA’s Abigail Ross Hopper to headline Energy Innovators Gala

Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), will be the keynote speaker for the 5th Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala on Thursday, November 9, at MSU’s Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing.

In 2017, the advanced energy industry expanded while conquering hurdles around technology improvements, cost, and greater grid integration. Advanced energy companies added Michigan workers three times as fast as the rate of growth in the broader economy, and nationally solar workers account for more than other forms of energy generation combined. In Michigan, expansive energy legislation passed in 2016 created opportunities for businesses to increase manufacturing, to provide energy waste reduction, demand response, and renewable technologies, and to increase purchasing of these cleaner resources, all while meeting these requirements in a cost-effective manner to protect ratepayers, foster innovation, and encourage economic development.

Join Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council on November 9th as we celebrate 2017 by awarding leading advanced energy companies for their hard work.

Awards will be presented in the following categories:

  • Business of the Year
  • Emerging Business of the Year
  • Employer of the Year
  • Public Official of the Year

Sponsorship opportunities are available and come with a variety of benefits, including a table at the event and promotion of your company. Gala sponsorship opportunities can be found on the Michigan EIBC website.

We thank our sponsors:

Megawatt Level:

Kilowatt Level:



Michigan EIBC-backed legislation for DER Tax Exemption introduced to State House

On Thursday, Representative Tom Barrett introduced HB 5143, cosponsored by Reps. Triston Cole, Scott Dianda, Beau LaFave, Peter Lucido, Yousef Rabhi, and House Energy Policy Chair Gary Glenn.

HB 5143 reinstates the property tax exemption for alternative energy systems that was originally created through 2002 PA 549 and was in effect from 2002 to 2012.

The term “alternative energy system” includes fuel cell, photovoltaic, solar-thermal, wind, CHP, microturbine, miniturbine, Stirling cycle, battery cell, clean fuel, and electricity storage systems – technologies employed by many of the businesses Michigan EIBC represents.

Under HB 5143, those technologies would again be exempt from personal property taxes as long as they offset all or a portion of the energy uses on that property. 

Michigan EIBC believes that this legislation is necessary to avoid the current patchwork system of interpretation and enforcement around taxation of distributed energy systems. It will place Michigan on the same level as other states who have already determined that DERs are exempt from personal property taxes, improving the economics of these systems.

This is especially critical for residential customers, many of whom currently face equitably assessed taxes for the energy produced on their property. The personal property tax changes enacted in 2012 have already addressed these issues for commercial and industrial customers. 


Michigan EIBC talks anaerobic digesters at Grand Rapids 2030 PACE event

Founders Brewing Co. hosted a PACE launch event for the Grand Rapids 2030 District to celebrate the partnership’s commitment to creating efficient buildings that profitability for property owners, have low environmental impact, and strengthen the community. The event served to raise awareness for the importance of PACE, or Property Assessed Clean Energy financing, which allows property owners to take out loans make energy upgrades to their buildings with deferred and lower interest rates.

The event featured several speakers, including Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss and Andy Levin of Michigan EIBC member company Lean & Green Michigan. At the event, EIBC highlighted the continued the PACE law to include anaerobic digesters. EIBC has backed SB 375, a bill that recently passed the Michigan Senate, which would do just that.


Careers in Energy Week

Governor Rick Snyder named this week “Careers in Energy Week” to celebrate the growing state energy industry.

According to Governor Snyder, Michigan’s energy industry accounts for nearly 100,000 jobs with demand projected to increase by 9 percent through 2024. The increase shows a vital need for those with Professional Trades skills to consider the sector and grow training in the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and math and the Professional Trades to better prepare Michiganders to close the gap in the workforce pipeline.

Michigan utilities are getting on board, with DTE Energy, Consumers Energy and the Lansing Board of Water & Light partnering to provide Michigan students an up-close look at careers in the state energy industry.

“Affordable, reliable energy is fundamental to maintaining a great environment for Michiganders to live, work and play in,” Snyder said. “I want to encourage students and job seekers to explore these in-demand jobs and, in turn, help close the growing talent gap in our state.”


Michigan Energy News:


News from Washington:

  • Leaders of the bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus hope to find a compromise to replace the Clean Power Plan.
  • President Donald Trump nominated Kathleen Hartnett-White to lead the Council on Environmental Quality, which coordinates environmental and energy policies. Hartnett-White is expected to face an uphill battle in her Senate confirmation hearings over her track record of denying the scientific consensus regarding human-fueled climate change.
  • Lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee questioned Energy Secretary Rick Perry on his proposal to financially support coal and nuclear plants, saying the rule would be anti-competitive and destroy electricity markets. The chairman of FERC said he is “sympathetic” to the Energy Department proposal, but would not support anything that could “blow up the market.” Surprisingly, an energy policy think tank that endorsed President Trump now says the proposal is “excessive and unnecessarily distortive.” 
  • EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will issue a directive on a new policy preventing scientists who receive EPA grants from serving on the EPA’s advisory committees.
  • Robert Kavlock, acting science adviser of the EPA and acting assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office of Research and Development, will retire in early November.
  • The State Department approved the expansion of an international pipeline to transport oil sands petroleum from Canada to the United States for refining.


Grid & Efficiency News:

  • Puerto Rico could become a case study on how to build a grid that’s resilient to storms. 
  • The Department of Energy is using blockchain technology to defend distributed resources on the grid from cybersecurity threats.
  • For the first time ever, a home energy use estimate is available for almost every home in the U.S.
  • University of Minnesota researchers say renewables on the grid are having less of an impact on reducing emissions than previously thought, emphasizing that more renewables are needed.
  • ComEd is turning to ratepayers to fund microgrids after the Illinois legislature removed state funding.
  • Sonnen will install energy storage systems in 2,900 new houses in Prescott Valley, Arizona.
  • A proposal by the electricity market CAISO to expand from California across the West is being stymied by political resistance, while some transmission developers are moving ahead with new lines


Solar News:

  • Experts say utility-scale community solar programs are still evolving, but are starting to provide a range of options for customers.
  • The SEIA is working on a platform to help speed up solar development, lower transaction costs and serve more markets, says the group’s senior director of project finance and capital markets.
  • First Solar Inc., the biggest U.S. solar manufacturer, supports tariffs on imports, citing “unfair competition” from producers in other countries. Researchers highlighted the possible impacts of solar tariffs
  • The US’s third-largest concentrated solar tower developer appears to have ceased operations.
  • Maine’s largest municipal solar array, composed of 2,944 panels, was unveiled this week.
  • A truck in South Carolina with eight solar panels on the roof  is operating as “the world’s first 100% solar powered clinic.”
  • A Swiss teams took first place in a solar decathlon in Denver that challenges college teams to build highly energy-efficient solar houses.
  • An Ikea store under construction near Indianapolis plans to have the largest rooftop solar installation in Indiana. 
  • The second phase of a 3 MW solar array at Ohio Northern University is underway. 
  • A California startup is making solar trackers for commercial and industrial rooftops, which can boost energy output by 30-40%.
  • Policymakers can help turn around Hawaii’s tanking solar industry by using a “smart export” program, which would compensate customers for sending electricity back to the grid during peak demand times. 
  • A city in southeast Minnesota agrees to a 25-year contract to get energy from a planned community solar project, which could save nearly $2 million over that period. 
  • New solar installations along a light rail route in St. Paul, Minnesota, will be unveiled today.


Wind News:


Bioenergy News:

  • Lawmakers met with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to discuss the Renewable Fuel Standard, following the EPA’s proposal to lower its annual fuel standard targets, which would hurt the ethanol industry. At the same time, governors in several states co-signed a letter to President Trump expressing support for the Renewable Fuel Standard.
  • Poultry farmers across the Midwest are turning to waste-heat recovery systems devised by a Missouri researcher that are meant to reduce heating bills. 
  • Senator Al Franken of Minnesota said the federal farm bill can hold key provisions to support bioenergy in the state’s agriculture sector.


Fossil Fuel & Nuclear News:


Technology & Market News:

  • Researchers at MIT are using sulfur, oxygen and saltwater to create cheaper batteries.
  • A government lab in Colorado is testing a way to store renewable energy over long periods of time using microbes and hydrogen. The process is known as “power-to-gas.”
  • An Illinois-based startup developed a network to make it easier to trade energy.
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies will commit $64 million to support efforts to transition the U.S. economy away from coal and toward advanced energy.
  • Greenpeace issued a report showing that many top global tech companies did not deliver on commitments to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.



Advanced Lighting News:


Vehicle & Mobility News:


Michigan Energy Events:

Michigan EIBC members 5 Lakes Energy and Apex Clean Energy, along with CMS Energy, invite you to the 21st Century “Clean Energy” Economy: Crossing Traditional Boundaries panel discussion on October 24 from 6:30-7:30pm at 161 Anspach Hall in Mt. Pleasant. The event is sponsored by Central Michigan University. This event is free and open to the public, and no RSVPs are needed.

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.

NextEnergy invites you to the Autonomy & Mobility Conference on October 25 in Detroit. Autonomy & Mobility 2017 will provide an open forum for all participants to share ideas. In addition to focused sessions with leading experts, the event will culminate in a unique, interactive exchange among panelists and attendees. Register here

The Michigan Agency for Energy’s Energy Services Coalition’s 2017 Leadership in Energy Efficiency Awards is scheduled for November 1 in Lansing.  Representative Beth Griffin will be the Keynote Speaker and will highlight new legislation regarding energy project financing.  Attendees will also hear from the award recipients about their Energy Savings Performance Contract experience, and lunch will be provided. Register here.

The 5th Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala will take place on Thursday, November 9 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing. This annual gala recognizes those businesses and policymakers who have done the most to grow the Michigan advanced energy industry. Tickets are on sale now, with sponsorships also available. Thank you to our Megawatt sponsor Cypress Creek Renewables and our Kilowatt Sponsor Invenergy. Please contact Nicole Forward for more information.


National Energy Events: 
EUCI announced its event, “Fundamentals of Distributed Resource (DER) System Planning” for October 23-24 in San Francisco, California. Through presentations and panel discussions, attendees will have the opportunity at this course to consider how distributed energy resources (DER) are changing utility and power industry norms. Register here.

The 2017 U.S. Power and Renewables Summit will take place in Austin on November 7-8. The conference, hosted by Greentech Media, provides an in-depth look at how solar, wind, and related renewable energy technologies are impacting power markeys, and how this interaction is raising key questions and challenges for the industry moving forward.
The U.S. Energy Storage Summit 2017 is taking place December 12-13 in San Francisco. Now in its third year, this event brings together utilities, financiers, regulators, technology innovators, and storage practitioners for two full days of data-intensive presentations, analyst-led panel sessions with industry leaders, and extensive, high-level networking.
Mark your calendar for the 5th National Conference on Next Generation Demand Response on February 7-8, in San Diego, California. For more information, and to register, visit the event website here.


Additional Resources:

A website from the Michigan Public Service Commission provides details on updates to state energy laws. For more information, or to sign up for notifications, visit
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 Energy Department’s Solar Energies Technology Office will award $62 million in grants for early-stage research into concentrated solar power.