This newsletter was originally published on January 31, 2018.
Different Takes on Solar Tariffs
Last week, President Trump imposed a 30% tariff on imported crystalline silicon photovoltaic modules and cells. The first 2.5 GW of cell imports every year are excluded. According to the Trump administration, the tariffs will decline in 5% increments over a four-year span, ending at 15% in 2022. Federal trade officials will allow companies to apply for specific solar products to be exempted from the tariff.
In Michigan, and across the country, parties have been divided in response to this tariff decision. U.S. Senators from Michigan Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters applauded the President’s decision, saying it would support domestic manufacturers.
However, the Solar Energy Industries Association warns the tariff will lead to about 23,000 job losses in the U.S. and a report by GTM Research estimates an 11% reduction in U.S. solar installations through 2022 as a result of the tariff. A Chicago Tribune columnist claims that placing tariffs on imported products is a protectionist policy that will harm U.S. consumers and the solar industry.
According to Greentech Media, the tariff adds up to roughly $0.10-$0.15/watt, which could reduce utility-scale solar installations by 9%. However, GTM Research predicts that this tariff will not significantly increase the economic viability of the petitioners, Suniva and SolarWorld. However, these tariffs are expected to benefit certain companies like thin film manufacturer First Solar. In fact, several solar manufacturers announced expansion plans following the adoption of the tariff, despite most experts saying a manufacturing renaissance is unlikely. A Quartz article explains that the tariff will likely not be enough to spur investment in manufacturing, but may cost taxpayers more than $400 million.
Despite these concerns, President Donald Trump said he does not expect the tariff to result in a trade war or to harm the American solar industry. Instead, he anticipates that foreign manufacturers will come to the United States to build their products domestically.
New Community Solar Project in East Lansing
Yesterday, the East Lansing broke ground on a new community solar, being contract by Michigan EIBC member company Patriot Solar Group.
“Community solar, as a whole, is really starting to take hold in the country,” says Jeff Mathie, CEO of Patriot Solar Group. Mathie partnered with Lansing Board of Water & Light, the City of East Lansing, and Michigan Energy Options on this project because he believes that thousands of people want to use solar energy but cannot install solar panels on their property.
The first few panels will be installed by the end of the week. When the project is completed, there will be 1000 300-watt panels.
Michigan Policy, Regulation & Utilities
- Governor Snyder declines to take action on Line 5 resolutions.
- Efforts to recall four township officials in the Upper Peninsula result from concerns that the officials are in violation of conflict of interest laws.
- DTE Energy and Consumers Energy are planning 3-4% rate cuts as a result of costs saved under the new tax law.
- A company is considering building a natural gas-fueled power plant near Fowlerville that could generate enough electricity to power over 1 million homes. Many residents oppose this proposed power plant.
- Consumers Energy is trying to prevent PURPA regulations on buying renewable energy from independent producers.
- Critics are concerned about a potential conflict of interest if DTE’s proposed $1 billion natural gas plant becomes a customer of the utility’s NEXUS pipeline.
- Michigan’s Representative Fred Upton is one of 33 U.S. House Republicans to have joined the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus.
Michigan Energy Leaders
- The “Zero Cities Project” may reduce Grand Rapids’ carbon footprint to zero by the year 2050.
- A Detroit company is looking to install renewable energy projects in areas around the city struggling with energy poverty.
- Upper Peninsula groups see a bigger role for solar and energy efficiency.
- East Lansing will get new community solar project, contracted by Michigan EIBC member company Patriot Solar.
- The National Energy Foundation-Michigan office, based in Milford, is a recipient of an Inspiring Efficiency Award from the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance.
- Michigan EIBC member company 5 Lakes Energy was recently featured in the 3rd edition of Entrepreneurs of Michigan, which focused on B Corporations.
National Energy Stories
- Federal regulators approved new rules submitted by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).
- Michael Dourson, President Trump’s nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency’s chemical safety office, is leaving his senior adviser post at the agency in the coming weeks. Dourson had withdrawn his nomination and stayed on as an advisor in December after opposition from several Senators.
- The Supreme Court unanimously rejected arguments by the Trump administration that lawsuits over the Clean Water Act should be moved to federal appeals courts.
- Across the country, businesses want stronger clean energy mandates.
- Utility Dive highlights 10 power sector trends in 2018, including a focus on resilience, pricing reforms, roadblocks for renewables, and opportunities for energy storage.
- A new report finds that wind and solar jobs currently outnumber coal and gas jobs in 30 states.
- The Environmental Defense Fund released a report, “Clean Energy, Sustainability, and the New American Workforce.”
National Energy Leaders
- The mayor of South Miami is working to help homeowners boost their renewable energy efforts.
- Apple, Facebook and Google are the latest companies to challenge Duke Energy’s plans to raise electricity rates in North Carolina.
- Every bottle of Budweiser brewed in the U.S. by this spring will be made with 100% renewable energy.
Michigan Energy Events
Exclusive: Institute for Energy Innovation and the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council are hosting a Solar 101 Lunch & Learn on February 6. Please note the new date; this event was originally scheduled for January 25. This event is only open to Michigan state legislators, legislative staff, and Michigan EIBC member companies. Register here.
Michigan EIBC will host a Michigan Energy Forum on solar at member company Varnum’s Grand Rapids office on March 5. Stay tuned for registration details!
Michigan EIBC’s 6th Annual Member Meeting is scheduled for April 30 in Lansing, followed by a Lobby Day on May 1. Mark your calendars!
Michigan EIBC will host a Michigan Energy Forum on energy efficiency and lighting on June 11 at member company CLEAResult’s office in Detroit. Stay tuned for details!
National Energy Events
Mark your calendar for the 5th National Conference on Next Generation Demand Response on February 7-8, in San Diego, California. Learn more and register here.
Join MEEA and 650 energy efficiency innovators at the 2018 Midwest Energy Solutions Conference, February 7-9 in Chicago, Illinois.
With more than 650 attendees, MES is the region’s largest energy efficiency event and an unparalleled networking opportunity. February 7-9, MEEA will be holding their annual 2018 Midwest Energy Solutions Conference at the Chicago Hilton & Towers. MES is about celebrating accomplishments in energy efficiency, as well as laying out the efficiency program and policy landscape for the coming year. Register here.
EUCI invites you to the Net Energy Metering (NEM) and Utility Solar Rates Summit March 1-2 in Nashville, TN. The summit will explore common NEM rate structures and many alternatives under consideration and examine the array of options that utilities and regulatory commissions are looking to as a means for striking the necessary balance between promoting the advancement of solar policy and development, facilitating appropriate rate recovery, ensuring grid reliability and enabling consumer choice. Register here. Members, check out your inboxes for an exclusive member-only discount!
EUCI invites you to its Renewable Energy 101 Forum, March 12-13, in Portland, Oregon. Learn more and register here.
On March 13-15, energy innovators from across industry, government, and academia will gather at the Gaylord National Convention Center right outside Washington, DC for a three-day program showcasing transformational energy technologies. The 2018 Summit agenda has been posted online! ARPA-E has assembled 20+ panel discussions (including topics on defense, bioenergy, and grid technologies), networking receptions, and technology demonstrations. (Please note the agenda is subject to change). Register TODAY.
EUCI invites you to the Utility-Scale Solar Power Plant Fundamentals conference on April 18 – 19 in Portland, Oregon. Register here.
Announcements and Opportunities
The Michigan Battle of the Buildings is April 18. Join the awards and recognition program for energy use reduction today! The competition is open to all Michigan area commercial, industrial, non-profit, educational institutions & multi-family buildings. Any building type except single family residential. Registration ends March 31.
Nominations are now being accepted for the Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards to honor Michigan organizations and individuals for their commitment to responsible energy production and consumption. The Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards celebrate outstanding achievements by recognizing people and organizations that have taken firm, meaningful actions to stop energy waste. Last year, energy solutions honored at the awards ranged from installing energy-efficient, state-of-the-art heating, cooling and lighting systems to common-sense, lower-cost steps like caulking windows and adding insulation. Nominations can be submitted online at www.mienergyexcellence.org through March 31 with winners to be announced at a celebration in the fall.
The Michigan Agency for Energy announced a $400 discount for public building operators who attend building operator certification classes this year in Grand Rapids, Saginaw, Lansing or Detroit. Register here for a Level 1 class and here for a Level 2 class.