Newsletter: Snyder Appoints Ex-Utility Lobbyist to Michigan Public Service Commission

This newsletter was originally published on July 21, 2015.

Snyder Appoints Ex-Utility Lobbyist to Michigan Public Service Commission

Governor Snyder this week appointed Norm Saari to the Michigan Public Service Commission, where he will replace outgoing Commissioner Greg White effective August, subject to the advice and consent of the Michigan Senate. Saari was most recently Chief of Staff to Michigan House Speakers Kevin Cotter (R-Mt. Pleasant) and Jase Bolger (R-Marshall), and also served in the Snyder administration as Director of Appointments. Saari spent most of his career with Consumers Energy, including two decades leading their government affairs activities.

In a statement, Governor Snyder praised Saari’s “distinguished career in the utility industry as well as in public service.” Michigan Public Service Commissioners serve a six year term.


Senate Committee Extends Federal Production Tax Credit for Wind

The United States Senate Finance Committee voted Tuesday on a package of extensions for some 50 tax incentives, including the $0.023 per kWh production tax credit (PTC) for wind energy projects. The package included an investment tax credit (ITC) and expensing and bonus depreciation provisions to support wind development.

The package now needs to be voted on by the full Senate, and ultimately be approved by the House and signed into law by the President. The future for the credits are still uncertain, thought this is a very good sign. When Congress failed to extend the tax incentives in 2013, development fell 92% and 30,000 wind industry jobs were lost. The 2014 restoration of the credit brought back 23,000 jobs, according to the wind industry.

The solar ITC slated to be reduced at the end of 2016 is not in the package, though that is not necessarily a sign that it will not eventually be extended either.


Join Us in Grand Rapids on July 30!

Please join us on Thursday, July 30 from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm for a West Michigan Advanced Energy Business Networking Meeting at Varnum in Grand Rapids.

The presentation topic for this meeting is Corporate Purchasers of Advanced Energy. Confirmed speakers include Jerry Akers, Senior Energy Manager with Herman Miller, and Kris Spaulding, co-owner of Brewery Vivant. Michigan EIBC will also give an update on current state and federal energy policy issues.

This meeting is free for Michigan EIBC Members and $25 for non-members. Lunch is provided and space is limited! Register today.


New Members

KM Fritz LLC

KM Fritz LLC assists companies and organizations of all sizes achieve their goals for sustainable growth and greener operations by: 1) aligning public affairs strategies with business objectives and product offerings; 2) identifying financing options to meet clean energy, efficiency, and other project goals; and 3) promoting sustainable business practices.

Ecology Center

The Ecology Center works to develop innovative solutions for healthy people and a healthy planet, and seeks to rapidly phase out the use of fossil fuels and ward off the worst impacts of climate change.


Renewing Members

Midwest Energy Group

Founded in 2007, Midwest Energy Group is an energy services company (ESCO) focused on energy efficiency and energy management. We exist to provide positive financial and operational impact for our customers, serving commercial, industrial, municipal, and institutional organizations. Midwest Energy Group’s purpose is to develop and nurture long-term relationships, consistently driving customer profitability through the provision of expert advice, progressive engineering, custom energy efficiency solutions, and energy management plans.

They Identify, Design, Implement & Monitor Energy Efficiency Projects so their clients can lower their operating costs and increase their profitability.


Michigan Energy News

Mlive has a piece recapping the differences between the different energy proposals.

Bridge Magazine has an OpEd from GVSU’s Erik Nordman about how Michigan could find a cost effective solution to complying with the Clean Power Plan through a regional carbon pricing program.

Farmers Advance has a piece on the Agriculture Leaders of Michigan conference and the importance of energy savings in farming practices.

Ann Arbor News has a piece on a new solar array set for Ypsilanti cemetery.

Midwest Energy News has a story about the potential negative effect on net-metering in Michigan caused by the Senate Republican energy plan.


National Energy News

AWEA announced that wind producers put 1,661 MW of new capacity online in the second quarter of 2015, the largest amount on record, according to the just-released quarterly industry market report.

Utility Dive has a piece on Hawaii’s valuation of distributed solar generation.

The U.S. House and Senate both passed comprehensive energy packages with bipartisan support. Both contain provisions for energy efficiency, and are absent of any measure that would repeal clean energy requirements in the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act.

Panasonic Corp. will start offering new solar panels with a 25-year warranty, Bloomberg reports.


Upcoming Michigan Energy Events
The 2015 Michigan Energy Providers Conference will be held July 29-31 at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. The conference is presented by the Michigan Electric and Gas Association.

Michigan EIBC is hosting an Ann Arbor Advanced Energy Business Networking Meeting at Sakti3 on Friday, August 7 from 11am-2pm. Michigan EIBC will give an update on the current state and federal energy policy debate and Sakti3 President and Michigan EIBC Board Member Dr. Ann Marie Sastry will talk about the company’s current work. Lunch will be provided. This meeting is free for Michigan EIBC Members and $25 for non-members. Register here.

The September Michigan Energy Forum meeting will be held Thursday, September 10 from 5-7pm at Ann Arbor SPARK. The theme for the September meeting is “Michigan Solar Industry Update – Policy and Market Trends.”

SAVE THE DATE: The 3rd Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala will be held Tuesday, November 10 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing. More details and registration will be available soon.

Upcoming National Energy Events
Solar Power International will be held this year from September 14-17 in Anaheim, California.
Fortune’s ’Brainstorm E: Where Energy, Technology, and Sustainability Meet’ will take place September 28-29 in Austin.  

Additional 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. is a national solar permitting database that provides information on permitting for solar in jurisdictions across the country. The database includes a variety of information, from average permit turnaround times, to information required to be included in the permit, to contact information for individual jurisdictions. You can browse the requirements for the Michigan cities included in the database here.
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 has 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.