- Newsletter (395)
Welcome to the weekly newsletter of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council (Michigan EIBC), the business voice for advanced energy in Michigan. Here’s what’s new this week:
Clean Energy Future Plan, Bills to Ease Renewable Energy Siting and More Move to Governor’s Desk
The biggest push in years for new clean energy policy in Michigan came to fruition this week, with bills establishing a clean energy standard, strengthening energy waste reduction requirements, reforming the process for siting renewable energy projects, helping solar energy and agriculture work together and expanding the authority of the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to act on clean energy all being signed off by lawmakers, sending the bills to Governor Whitmer’s desk for signing.
On Nov. 8, the Senate voted to accept the House-passed versions of several bills that make up the Clean Energy Future Plan introduced by lawmakers this spring: SB 271, SB 273, SB 277 and SB 502. Read last week’s newsletter for the details about what each of these bills would do. The Senate had already passed previous versions of these bills.
Also on Nov. 8, the Michigan Senate passed HB 5120 and HB 5121, two bills that would streamline permitting for renewable energy projects to make them easier to be built in Michigan. The House of Representatives passed both bills last week and late on November 8, the House voted to concur in the Senate-passed versions, sending the bills to Governor Whitmer for her signature.
The previous day, the Senate Energy and Environment Committee reported HB 5120 and 5121 at a hearing where Michigan EIBC Director of Policy Justin Carpenter testified. He talked about how the economic benefits created by these bills would be spread widely throughout the state’s economy. “We are looking at an entire supply chain and an advanced energy industry that employs hundreds of thousands of people,” Carpenter said. But the renewable energy projects that this supply chain serves have been “stymied by exclusionary zoning, setbacks impossible to accommodate [and] bureaucratic pitfalls” at the local level, creating the need for this legislation, he said.
Chair Dan Scripps also testified at the hearing in favor of the bills, calling them “a necessary shift in how we site energy infrastructure in Michigan.” “It is now very much the case that our broken approach to siting is threatening our ability to build the generation we need to maintain reliability,” he said.
Also testifying at the hearing in support of HB 5120 and 5121 were Rep. Ranjeev Puri (D-Canton), Montcalm County farm owner Dick Farnsworth, Monroe County farm owner Clara Ostrander, Evergreen Action Midwest Senior Policy and Advocacy Manager Courtney Bourgoin and Michigan Laborers District Council Director of Government Affairs Robert Joerg.
All these bills are expected to be signed into law by the governor in the coming weeks.
Community Solar Bill Supporters Testify Before House Energy Committee
Amid all the other clean energy policies being passed into law this year, reforming Michigan’s lack of a legal structure for third-party owned, local community solar remains a priority. Community solar developers testified before the House Energy, Communications and Technology Committee on Nov. 8 in favor of HB 4464 and HB 4465, bills that would establish rules for potential community solar subscribers to receive proportional bill credits for the output of solar facilities to which they might subscribe.
Sarah Moon, co-founder of Michigan EIBC member Fieldworks Power, testified about how her company has pursued community solar projects around the country, and would also in Michigan if this law comes into place. “Once the foundation for a true community solar program is established, we plan to invest significantly in developing community solar projects that will bring real savings, jobs, grid upgrades and community and economic benefits to Michiganders,” she said.
The city of Grand Rapids is one of those communities that is waiting for bills like HB 4464 and 4465 to make community solar projects possible, according to the city’s Government and Legislative Affairs Officer Karyn Ferrick, who testified at the hearing along with bill sponsor Rep. Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids). The city wants to deploy up to 16.5 MW of solar at a closed landfill site, and expects the bill to help this potential project win federal funding opportunities, Ferrick explained. The fact that the bill required 30% of electricity generated from projects to be reserved for low-income households is in line with the city’s commitments to equity, she said.
Michigan EIBC Director of Policy Justin Carpenter also testified at the hearing. If the bill is signed into law, “there would be opportunities for community solar across the state,” he said. But without this law, “the only option for customers who live in territories of investor-owned utilities is to sign up for utility programs, which don’t include community solar options, don’t save customers’ money and don’t respond to local demands for clean energy,” Carpenter said.
“Before us lies an opportunity to ensure that the future of energy in Michigan is an equitable one that gives power to all its people,” he said to conclude his testimony.
‘Right to Charge’ Bill Passes Legislature
This week the Michigan Senate also passed HB 4706, dubbed the “Right to Charge” bill, to support electric vehicle charging station deployment, on a bipartisan vote (33-2). The Michigan House passed the bill back in June and it now awaits the Governor’s signature to become law.
“I look forward to Governor Whitmer signing the legislation to ensure that Michigan has sufficient charging infrastructure for the electric vehicle transition,” bill sponsor Rep. Sharon MacDonell (D-Troy) said in a statement.
“Michigan EIBC appreciates the efforts of Representative MacDonell and her colleagues to pass this critical legislation in a bipartisan manner,” said Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman said in that statement, which was released with other trade organizations, Clean Fuels Michigan and MICHauto. “We look forward to Governor Whitmer signing this legislation, which will enable the expansion of charging stations across Michigan, creating jobs across the industry in manufacturing, installation, and maintenance.”
Apex Clean Energy
Apex Clean Energy is an independent renewable energy company focused on developing utility-scale generation and energy storage facilities. Based in Charlottesville, Virginia, Apex has commercialized thousands of megawatts of clean energy and has built one of the nation’s largest, most diversified portfolios of renewable energy resources. The company is currently exploring the feasibility of constructing more than 1.2 GW of renewable energy projects in Michigan.
Mackinaw Power is developing new renewable energy projects to provide power for the Great Lakes at competitive prices. Mackinaw Power also uses its experience within the wind industry to work with a variety of companies in Michigan to increase the supply chain for renewable energy technologies in the Midwest. In 2003, Mackinaw Power acquired the assets of Bay Windpower, which developed the Great Lakes’ first privately developed wind power project. Mackinaw Power plans to be a catalyst for sustainable economic growth, environmental stewardship, and energy security. We are working to build sustainable communities to provide clean, affordable wind power by harvesting the area’s wind resources. Mackinaw Power is investing in Michigan’s future generations. We look forward to working with you to create renewable power that protects our Great Lakes, public health, and farm land.
Michigan Energy News
- The bills passed by legislature this week transform Michigan “into a leader in the fight against climate change,” the New York Times reports.
- The clean energy standard passed by Michigan lawmakers has a target year of 2040 for reaching 100% clean electricity, as soon or sooner than every state with a clean energy standard except for Rhode Island.
- Inside Climate News talks to Michigan EIBC member 5 Lakes Energy Managing Partner Douglas Jester about the new clean energy bills in Michigan.
- MLive covers the comments from Michigan farm landowners Clara Ostrander and Dick Farnsworth in favor of the renewable energy siting bills.
- Voters in Montrose Township in Genesee County approve a new ordinance regulating large scale solar projects, while voters in Keene Township in Ionia County reject changes to its solar zoning ordinance.
National Energy News
- Texas voters approve a $10 billion fund to provide low-interest loans to build primarily natural gas-fired plants but also microgrids and other types of energy infrastructure.
- Maine voters reject a proposal to create a nonprofit public power entity to take over utility service in the state.
- North Carolina nonprofit Energy Savers Network is pursuing innovative approaches to weatherization.
- Dominion Energy lowers its levelized cost of electricity estimate for its planned 2,640-MW offshore wind project.
- Kentucky regulators partially approve a plan from PPL utilities to retire coal-fired generation and build a new gas plant along with solar and storage.
Michigan and National Energy Events
On Nov. 13, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) and Clean Fuels Michigan will co-host an informational webinar about the Lake Michigan Circuit, the multi-state initiative to build charging stations on major roads around Lake Michigan. Register here for this free webinar.
Attention Michigan EIBC members: if you have a job announcement you would like in the newsletter, please send a paragraph describing the position and a link to apply to Matt Bandyk at email@example.com. Please include in the email a specific end date for the job posting.
Elevate’s Senior Program Manager, Michigan Justice 40 Accelerator supports Elevate’s mission by leading equity-focused programs and projects that support building the capacity of community-based organizations to implement community-driven climate solutions. The Senior Program Manager collaborates across the organization as well as with key partner organizations, public sector partners. The Senior Program Manager will serve as the primary point of contact for the MI Justice40 Accelerator cohort members on their journey of federal funding readiness and implementation.
The Technical Project Manager, Community Programs (MI) leads the implementation of projects and small programs, maintains client relationships, and assists with program development for specific initiatives related to affordable housing and sustainable communities with an emphasis on energy and water efficiency and renewable energy. Many projects focus on utility affordability, building decarbonization, renewable energy access, climate planning, and/or community resilience. This position requires some technical background in building science, construction management, energy auditing, energy engineering, or other related analytical expertise.
Michigan EIBC member Centrepolis Accelerator at Lawrence Technological University is calling all innovators to apply for its Industrial Decarbonization Innovation Challenge. The goal of this challenge is to globally crowdsource best-in-class industrial decarbonization technologies and connect them with industrial corporate sponsors to accelerate their emission reduction goals and industrial decarbonization programs. Up to $250,000 in prizes will be made available to demonstrate and test best-in-class industrial decarbonization technologies in a real world setting.Click here to learn more about the challenge. Applications will close on Nov. 30.
Acadia Center is seeking to fill the role of Senior Director, Climate & Clean Energy Programs. Learn more here.
Consumers Energy has issued a RFP for solar generation projects in accordance with the company’s Proposed Course of Action in its Integrated Resource Plan. This forthcoming RFP is separate and distinct from the ongoing Consumers Energy 2023 VGP RFP for Wind and Solar generation projects. Read the RFP documents here. Respondent and project qualification applications are due Dec. 6.
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) has announced $1.2 million in funding available for matching grants to advance strategic deployment of EV infrastructure along Lake Michigan, part of the “Lake Michigan Circuit” being built in cooperation with Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. Matching grants are available to public, private, or nonprofit entities, for publicly available level 2 chargers or direct current (DC) fast chargers. Applications are due by 5 pm, Eastern Standard Time, Dec. 4, 2023. The request for proposals and other information about this opportunity can be found here.
Michigan EGLE issues an RFP offering grants through its Retooling Program for small manufacturers to implement energy efficiency upgrades. Applications are due March 3, 2024 or until funds are committed.