Newsletter: Senate confirms Perry as Secretary of Energy, Zinke as Secretary of the Interior

This newsletter was originally published on March 6, 2017.

Senate confirms Perry as Secretary of Energy, Zinke as Secretary of the Interior

The U.S. Senate last week voted to approve the nomination of former Texas Governor Rick Perry to lead the U.S. Department of Energy. The final confirmation vote was 62-37, with Perry garnering greater bipartisan support than many other nominees received. As Texas Governor, Perry oversaw broad expansion of natural gas development and more wind deployment than any other state, a fact that was highlighted by AEE Senior Vice President Malcolm Woolf, who told The Washington Post, As Governor of Texas, Rick Perry saw firsthand the positive economic impact as the Lone Star state diversified its energy production mix, resulting in more than 143,000 advanced energy jobs, success integrating more wind onto the grid than anywhere else, improving energy efficiency, and now experiencing a solar boom.” In his first comments to DOE employees, Perry celebrated DOE’s work to change the world through innovation at DOE and its network of national

Also last week, the Senate on a 68-31 vote to confirm Congressman Ryan Zinke (R-MO) as Secretary of the Interior. After riding a horse to work for his first day as Secretary, Zinke indicated he had concerns over a proposed 11% reduction to the Department’s budget, part of a number of reductions being considered by the Trump Administration.


Registration Now Open for Michigan EIBC 5th Annual Member Meeting

Registration is now open for Michigan EIBC’s 5th Annual Member Meeting, which will take place on Wednesday, April 26 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing. This annual event brings together leaders in Michigan’s advanced energy industry, utility executives, policymakers, regulators, and others. Past speakers have included Congressman Mike Bishop (R-Mich.), MPSC Chairman Sally Talberg, Senate Energy Chair Mike Nofs (R-Battle Creek) Consumers Energy CEO Patti Poppe, Invenergy CEO Michael Polsky, and former CLEAResult CEO Glenn Garland. This year’s Annual Member Meeting will feature discussions on grid modernization and infrastructure, corporate procurement of advanced energy, and how energy, IT, and transportation are converging to create the new mobility industry, among many others. Keynote speakers and panel topics will be announced over the next several weeks.

In addition, sponsorship opportunities are also available. The Annual Member Meeting attracts a broad range of industry leaders from renewable energy, energy efficiency, transportation, and the utility sector. Sponsors will have direct access to industry leaders during this day-long conference that offers unique insight and unmatched networking opportunities.

CORRECTION: In last week’s Michigan EIBC Newsletter, State Representative Kevin Hertel’s party designation was listed incorrectly. He is, in fact, a Democrat, just like his father, former Michigan House Speaker Curtis Hertel Sr., his brother, State Senator Curtis Hertel Jr., and his uncles, former Congressman Dennis Hertel and former State Senator John C. Hertel. We regret the error.  


New/ Renewing Members




Covanta Kent

Covanta Kent is an energy-from-waste facility capable of processing approximately 190,000 of the Grand Rapids area’s post-recycled waste. It has been an integral portion of Kent County’s waste system for nearly thirty years, and continues today to provide clean, sustainable energy to the local power grid.




The Energy Alliance Group of Michigan (EAG)

The Energy Alliance Group of Michigan (EAG), a division of The Energy Alliance Group of North America, is a Project Developer for industrial and commercial energy efficiency and cost recovery solutions, specializing in Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financed projects.

With divisions in Michigan and Ohio, EAG manages projects throughout the U.S. and is a leading authority on the administration of the PACE program for energy efficiency improvement projects. EAG takes a “holistic” approach to energy efficiency and cost recovery solutions through its “Four Cores” of Services, Technologies, Incentives and Financing – all critical elements to insuring the highest return on investment (ROI) for EAG clients.

Unlike most competitors, EAG is technology agnostic and solution driven. Representing or distributing no particular product or technology, EAG’s clients are provided with an optimal solution – not one in which EAG has a vested financial interest. In addition to reducing utility costs, EAG identifies a number of operational savings through its Services offering. These include niche engineering based programs such as tax incentives, tax credits, utility choice, and other operational cost recovery services that complement the holistic approach taken.

For each project, the total cost of ownership is defined for a 20-year period or longer. In addition to the utility reduction achieved, EAG’s life cycle models include maintenance, end of life replacement, annual cost increases and incentives to provide the client with a true cost of ownership and return on investment.

These capabilities and areas of expertise allow a “cradle to grave” approach to energy efficiency and cost recovery solutions, for clients large and small.





Michigan Biomass

Michigan Biomass is a coalition that advocates for the state’s grid-connected, wood-fired power plants – facilities constructed between 1985 and 1994. It was formed in 2007 to ensure that the biomass power industry would continue to contribute to the state’s energy, resource and economic wellbeing under renewable energy policy.

About 20% of the state’s renewable energy comes from forest-based, sustainable resources, mostly byproducts from wood products manufacturing. Because these power plants predate Michigan’s RPS they are affected differently by the growing renewable energy marketplace. The intrinsic values of biomass power – jobs and rural economies, low-value wood fiber markets, forest health and stewardship, mitigation of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, and support of the state’s electricity transmission system – warrant energy policy that preserves the production capacity and non-energy values these facilities provide.


Michigan Energy News

Consumers Energy is unveiling a new “Peak Power Savers” program designed to reduce expensive peaks during the summer months. The programs offered include cycling of home air conditioning units and two pricing programs that reward customers who reduce electricity consumption at peak periods. Additional information on the programs is available at

Michigan EIBC President Liesl Eichler Clark was featured on Michigan Public Radio’s The Next Idea program, highlighting the role energy efficiency can play in meeting Michigan’s energy needs.

Oakland County hosted a community forum on Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing options yesterday, featuring a presentation from Michigan EIBC Board member Andy Levin on financing options available through Lean & Green Michigan.

Voters in Sanilac County’s Marlette Township will consider a new wind zoning ordinance in the May 2 election. Michigan EIBC member Invenergy has been doing the preliminary work to construct a wind farm in the township, though plans are on hold until the zoning issues are resolved.

The Michigan Public Service Commission approved a $113 million rate increase for Consumers Energy this week, though because the increase was less than what the utility had self-implemented, customers will actually see a refund. Much of the increase was focused on distribution system enhancements, though the Commission denied Consumers’ request to increase the cost of opting out of smart meters. In addition, the Commission initiated a technical conference to examine opportunities to expand Michigan’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure – a move that won praise from Michigan EIBC.

The House Energy Policy Committee is reconvening today to take additional testimony on HB 4220, introduced by Committee Chair Gary Glenn (R-Midland), which would amend the opt-out provisions for smart meters in Michigan.

Delta County is taking advantage of a new Michigan law that expands opportunities for local governments to pursue cost savings through energy efficiency, partnering with Trane on improvements at the county courthouse and airport. The improvements are projected to save the county nearly $150,000 each year in energy and operational costs, as well as replacement cost avoidance.

Nominations are now open for the 2017 Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards, which recognize energy efficiency projects completed in 2016. The deadline for applications is March 31, 2017.


National Energy News

As part of an expanded corporate commitment to clean energy, Amazon announced it was installing solar arrays on 15 of its U.S. fulfillment centers this year, and 50 worldwide by 2020. These solar installations could power up to 80% of the energy demand at the fulfillment centers, like the one that was recently announced for Livonia.  

A group of investors led by Daimler AG and BMW AG’s i Ventures are investing $82 million in Michigan EIBC member ChargePoint, in part to fund efforts to build out a European electric vehicle charging network. ChargePoint currently operates more than 7000 EV charging stations in the U.S.

New York State is planning to offer a $2000 incentive for purchases of electric vehicles beginning in April. This is in addition to the federal incentive, which would bring the total rebate available to more than $10,000. A number of other states already offer such an incentive, including California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Washington.

The Renault-Nissan Alliance is the latest automaker to throw its hat into the mobility space, partnering with Transdev on a fleet of electric, self-driving cars for public and on-demand transportation.

ON North America is installing nearly 20MW of lithium-ion storage at two Texas wind farms. The storage projects will provide ancillary services to the Energy Reliability Corporation of Texas (ERCOT) market and increase system reliability and efficiency. The projects are slated to be online by the end of this year.

Tesla now believes it will hire 54% more workers for its Nevada Gigafactory than it originally anticipated, increasing projected job totals from 6500 to more than 10,000.

Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith announced bipartisan legislation that would increase Minnesota’s renewable portfolio standard to 50% by 2030, doubling the current standard of 25% by 2025. Though the legislation has bipartisan sponsors in both the State House and Senate, it also faces opposition, including from the chair of the House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee.

A new report from the Appliance Systems Awareness Project and the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy finds that efficiency standards for appliances and lighting help customers save hundreds of dollars each year – with average savings amounting to $500, or 16% of utility bills.

The Maryland House has voted to extend the state’s energy efficiency program, which expired in 2015. The legislation now heads to the Senate.

New York’s three state-owned ski resorts are all working to transition to 100% renewable energy by the year 2030.

Urjanet CEO Sanjoy Malik argues in a Greentech Media piece that Energy Data as a Service (EDaaS) can unlock a myriad of consumer benefits, and serve as the platform for the “new energy economy.”

NRG CEO Mauricio Gutierrez told participants on an earnings call Tuesday that he believes “the IPP model is now obsolete and unable to create value over the long term,” a result of wind, solar, and cheap natural gas challenging the economics of merchant power generators in Texas and elsewhere.

Ohio’s FirstEnergy is seeking new “zero emission nuclear” credits from the Ohio legislature, the latest utility to seek a bailout of its nuclear assets from state lawmakers as changing economics continue to put pressure on nuclear generation.

Forbes has an overview of what proposed federal tax changes could mean for the U.S. power sector. Apart from obvious potential changes, such as an accelerated phase out of the PTC and ITC, reducing the corporate rate could reduce the attractiveness of tax equity investments, shrinking the tax equity capital pool and increasing the cost of capital. The so-called “border tax” could make domestically-manufactured components, including wind towers and blades and solar panels, more attractive, by increasing the cost of imported materials.

According to initial reports, President Trump’s may include a proposal to cut funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by more than 25% in the forthcoming budget. Among the proposed cuts, the White House is proposing to phase out the Energy Star program, potentially transferring management to a non-governmental organization.


Michigan Energy Events
The 2017 Powering Michigan Agriculture Conference is taking place on Thursday, March 9 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing.

The Institute of Public Utilities will host Grid School 2017 from March 27-30 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing.

Michigan EIBC’s 5th Annual Member Meeting will take place on Wednesday, April 26 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing. This annual event brings together leaders in Michigan’s advanced energy industry, utility executives, policymakers, regulators, and others. Past speakers have included Congressman Mike Bishop (R-Mich.), MPSC Chairman Sally Talberg, Senate Energy Chair Mike Nofs (R-Battle Creek) Consumers Energy CEO Patti Poppe, Invenergy CEO Michael Polsky, and former CLEAResult CEO Glenn Garland. This year’s Annual Member Meeting will feature discussions on grid modernization and infrastructure, corporate procurement of advanced energy, and how energy, IT, and transportation are converging to create the new mobility industry, among many others. Registration is open now, and sponsorship opportunities are also available.

The Michigan Geothermal Energy Association is hosting its 2017 annual meeting on April 26-27 at the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mt. Pleasant. Trevor Lauer, president and chief operating officer of DTE Electric, will speak at the dinner on April 26. Additional details to follow.

The 2017 Energy Efficiency Conference and Exhibition, hosted by DTE Energy and the Engineering Society of Detroit, will take place May 9 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. The conference is now accepting proposals for presentations on topics related to energy efficiency.

National Energy Events

The 2017 ACEEE/ CEE National Symposium on Market Transformation will take place April 2-4 in Washington D.C. The theme for this year’s conference is ‘Innovative Approaches from Emerging Technologies to Market Transformation.’

The Energy Storage Association’s 27th Annual Conference and Expo is taking place April 18-20 in Denver. This event brings together leaders in the global energy industry working at the nexus of policy, technology and markets for energy storage.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s annual Future of Energy Summit will take place April 24-25 in New York. This annual event brings together traditional players and advanced energy leaders to discuss the critical energy issues of today and the next decade.

The annual AWEA Windpower Conference is taking place May 22-25 in Anaheim, CA. The marquee event for the US wind industry returns with top-tier speakers, world-class education, cutting edge technology, and premium marketing.

Greentech Media’s Grid Edge World Forum 2017  will be held in San Jose, CA on June 27-29. As the only conference exclusively focused on emerging distributed energy system, this event highlights the trends, opportunities, and innovation happening at the grid edge.

Additional Resources 

The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant cycle is now open, awarding grants for renewable energy projects in rural communities and agricultural areas. REAP is open to Agricultural Producers and Rural Small Businesses. Grants can be used for the purchase, installation, and construction of a Renewable Energy System or Energy Efficiency Improvement. Rural Small Business Projects must be located in a rural area with populations of 50,000 or less. The Agricultural Producer Projects can be located in rural or non-rural areas. REAP Grants provide a 25% cash reimbursement of the total system costs, with a maximum grant of $500,000 for Renewable Energy Systems and $250,000 for Energy Efficiency Improvements.
Applications for projects with Total Project Costs of $80,000 or less are now closed. Applications for projects with Total Project Costs greater than $80,000 are accepted through Monday, May 1, 2017.
The Application Templates and Forms are available at USDA Rural Development Offices or the National Website at: under Forms and Resources.
Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) is home to PowerSuite, a suite of tools that allows companies a one-stop on-line portal to search, track, and collaborate on state legislation and regulatory proceedings from around the country.
PowerSuite includes both BillBoard, the AEE dashboard for managing state legislation, and DocketDash, the AEE dashboard for managing state public utility commission proceedings. Subscription required.
The U.S. Department of Energy is offering A Guide to Federal Finance Facilities Available for Energy Efficiency Upgrades and Clean Energy Deployment. The downloadable guide provides information about the various federal financing programs available for energy efficiency and renewable energy — making it easier for state, local and tribal leaders, along with their partners in the private sector, to find capital for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
The Department of Energy offers free public access to accepted peer-reviewed manuscripts or published scientific journal articles from projects funded by the DOE within 12 months of publication.