Newsletter: This Midwestern State is doing Energy a Little Differently

This newsletter was originally published on October 25, 2016. 

This Midwestern State is doing Energy a Little Differently

While Michigan is in the midst of a major energy debate that could, it could be interesting to see how other Midwest states are developing new energy sources. Minnesota and Michigan have a lot of traits in common. Both states have similar climate and similar demographics. Minnesota is doing a few things differently though when it comes to building new energy.

Last month, Minnesota’s main investor owned utility Xcel, released a request for proposals (RFP) for 15,000 MW of new wind capacity through power purchase agreements or build-own-transfer arrangements. The utility is seeing this aggressive investment as ratepayer friendly, due to the $23/MWh wind production tax credit (PTC) and expected price increases in natural gas. Furthermore, improvements to their infrastructure and wind forecasting technology have made investing in wind easier for the utility.

On top of last month’s news, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission recently approved Xcel’s integrated resource plan (IRP). Their plan is to retire two coal-generating units, totally 1,362 MW. The plan also calls for 1,800 MW of new wind power, 1,400 MW of new solar power by the year 2030, in their goals to be 40% renewable by that time. The Michigan Legislature is currently considering creating an IRP process. It should be noted that Minnesota has both an IRP and renewable portfolio standard (RPS). Minnesota’s RPS Xcel to be 31.5 percent renewable by the year 2020. The state’s RPS also calls for 1.5 percent of their energy comes from solar, and 10 percent of that comes from smaller systems of less than 20 kW.

There are plenty of additional stories to highlight how aggressive Minnesota is tapping into advanced energy. In St. Paul, Madison Equities is undergoing a $12.5 million energy retrofit for three downtown buildings, utilizing utility rebates and PACE financing. An apartment building owner is on track to installing half a megawatt of rooftop solar to power their buildings. Other developers are examining building net-zero neighborhoods using district energy systems.

There are so many stories like these about how our neighbor to the west is pursuing it’s energy future. One this seems to be tied to all of it though, a strong renewable portfolio standard.


Welcome by Chairman Sally Talberg: Fourth Annual Energy Innovators Gala is Quickly Approaching

Michigan EIBC will welcome Michigan Public Service Commission Chairman Sally Talberg to kick off our 4th Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala on November 10 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing. Reserve your ticket today.

Keynote Speaker: John J. Viera

Increasingly the connection between the energy and transportation sectors is growing in many ways including how vehicles motivate and commitments to clean energy goals. There are many parallels between the increased understanding of the customer experience that the auto industry is focused on and the work happening in the electricity industry. Ford Motor Company is a leader in the mobility space since 1903 and that translates to the areas of connectivity, autonomous vehicles, customer experience, data and analytics, and mobility.

John J. Viera is the Global Director, Sustainability and Vehicle Environmental Matters for Ford Motor Company, a position he has held since January 2007. Viera is responsible for developing global sustainable business plans and policies, interfacing and negotiating environmental regulations with global governmental bodies, reporting externally on the company’s environmental and social performance, and leading the company’s engagement and partnerships with non-government organizations (NGOs) and other key stakeholders.
Sponsor Now to Join the Awards Committee!
Michigan EIBC’s premier annual event attracts a broad range of industry leaders from renewable energy, energy efficiency, transportation, and the utility sector. Michigan State Legislators, Michigan Public Service Commission staff, and other key decision makers will also be in attendance.
All sponsorship levels include a reserved table at the event and participation in the awards committee to determine recipients for the awards. Become a sponsor today.
Current Sponsors

Megawatt Sponsors




Kilowatt Sponsors




Michigan Energy News

After a busy week in the legislature, things may be aligning for SB 437 and 438; with the Michigan Chamber now saying they support the legislation. There have been verbal agreements to incorporate the following changes to the legislation:

  • Require all generation plans that are more than 225 MW to go through a certificate of necessity process.
  • Increasing the state’s renewable portfolio standard to 15 percent by 2021.

Larry Ward of the Conservative Energy Forum penned an opinion article calling on the legislature to increase the renewable portfolio standard, because it’s “what conservatives do.”

Keith Van Hollander of the Christian Coalition of Michigan and Blake Edmonds of the Young Conservatives for Energy Reform penned an opinion article in Midwest Energy News about state legislation inhibiting Tesla Motors from selling in Michigan.

The Huron County Planning Commission is reviewing an application from Huron Wind, LLC, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, to establish a wind overlay district, Huron Daily Tribune reports.

Oakland County could establish a PACE financing district under Michigan EIBC member, Lean and Green Michigan, C&G News reports.

Gary Melow of Michigan EIBC member, Michigan Biomass, and Lary Ward wrote an opinion article in the Detroit News about the need to use biomass energy.

The Independent Power Producers Coalition of Michigan (IPPC), a group of biomass and small hydroelectric power plants are asserting the Consumers Energy needs to use their power to comply with federal law, MIRS reports.


National Energy News

Adding 10 thousand MW of wind power to Iowa’s portfolio could save ratepayers $12.5 billion over 25 years, according to a report from the Wind Energy Foundation.

The extension of the solar investment tax credit may have slowed growth of residential rooftop solar, with the looming deadline no longer above installers’ and buyers’ heads, Bloomberg reports.

Utility Dive has a feature on the need to simplify regulations for community solar projects, or stymie growth.

SEIA announced the top 10 corporate solar users, Solar Industry Mag reports.

Lancaster, CA has a local requirement that newly built homes include solar panels, homeowners are enjoying the savings, E&E News reports.

A fifth of the world’s energy could come from wind by 2030, Reuters reports.

Once solar with storage becomes cost competitive, it could become very attractive for water desalination plants, GreenTech Media reports.

People who work in high-performing buildings have 26 percent higher cognitive functioning scores, CleanTechnica reports.

The Navy has become a quick procurer of renewable energy, storage and microgrid, GreenTech Media reports.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance published a report about how the electric and autonomous vehicle is going to transform the energy market.


Michigan Energy Events

The Grand Rapids Chamber and Michigan Environmental Council join forces to offer “Michigan’s Energy Future Forum” in Grand Rapids on Thursday, October 27th from 8:30 AM – noon. RSVP here to hear from MPSC Chairman Sally Talberg and MAE Executive Director Valerie Brader.

The Transportation, Economics, Energy and the Environment Conference will be held Friday, October 28 in Ann Arbor. Sign up here.

The Accelerate Michigan competition is going to be on Thursday, November 3 in Detroit. Sign up here.

The Pew Clean Energy Business Network will host a panel discussion titled From the Lab to the Livingroom: How Public-Private Partnerships Can Advance Your Energy Innovation featuring Argonne National Labs and MI EIBC members NextEnergy, Growth Capital Network and Navitas Systems on Thursday November 10th just prior (from 3:30-5 PM) to the EIBC gala. RSVP to Jamie Scripps at

The 4th Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala will be held Thursday, November 10 in East Lansing. Click here to get tickets.

National Energy Events

The US Dept. of Energy is hosting a webinar with the Western Area Power Administration,“ Accessing Capital for Tribal Energy and Economic Development,” Wednesday, October 26, from 1-3 pm. Register here.


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 accepted through Monday, October 31, 2016. 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. 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.