Newsletter: White House Works to Accelerate PACE, Make Solar More Affordable to Low and Middle-Income Families

This newsletter was originally published on July 27, 2016,

White House Works to Accelerate PACE, Make Solar More Affordable to Low and Middle-Income Families


The White House announced last week the Clean Energy Savings For All Initiative – a cross-government partnership between the Departments of Energy (DOE), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Agriculture (USDA), Health and Human Services (HHS), Veteran’s Affairs (VA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The goal of the initiative is to increase access to solar energy and promote energy efficiency across the United States and, in particular in low- and middle- income communities.

Key components of the initiative include improving and accelerating the use of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. PACE financing allows homeowners to finance clean energy projects with loans securitized by their property tax collector, allowing lenders to offer low-interest and longer terms. The DOE will be revising their “Best Practices Guidelines for Residential PACE Financing” and providing additional technical assistance to states and communities that wish to start up PACE financing. Additionally, HUD and the VA issued policy guidance, outlining how properties with PACE assessments can be purchased and refinanced with Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage insurance and by welcoming the use of PACE financing for VA insured mortgages.

As part of the effort, DOE announced its developing a new “Community Solar Challenge” that will award teams up to $100,000 to develop innovative models to increase solar deployment and cut communities’ energy bills, in particular in low-income communities. Additionally, the White House announced new technical assistance to help Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) grantees deploy renewable energy.


MISO Backs Forward Capacity Auction, Retail Open Access Advocates Pleased

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator recently announced its decision to back a forward capacity auction over a hybrid capacity auction model that was backed by MISO’s Independent Market Monitor. The decision was made after reviewing analysis from The Brattle Group, citing that the forward capacity auction could reduce price volatility by 35 to 37 percent. The analysis also suggested that the forward capacity auction model could bring in a new 1800 MW of merchant generation. The Market Monitor remained skeptical, arguing that the decision prioritized reliability and reduced volatility over efficient pricing that would allow generators to recover costs.

Retail open access advocates supported the measure. State Representative Gary Glenn (R-Larkin Township) and State Senator Mike Shirkey (R-Jackson), the most vocal advocates for retail open access in Michigan, co-signed a letter to MISO supporting the change. In the letter they wrote “The three-year forward proposal provides long-term pricing signals that we feel are critical to attract new generation capacity to Michigan.”

Both Michigan’s investor owned utilities and alternative energy suppliers trade on the MISO market. MISO will likely file a draft tariff later this month, and after getting feedback from stakeholders, will likely present the tariff to MISO’s Markets Committee on August 8.


New/Renewing Members


Cardno’s Restoration Services Business Unit began working in Michigan and throughout the Midwest as early as 1989, under the legacy firm name of J.F. New & Associates. The company was started to help clients navigate natural resources regulations and work with regulatory agencies to obtain wetland permits. Since then, we have grown and diversified to include a wide range of natural resource consulting services over a broad regional area. In 2010, we merged with Cardno and now operate under the Cardno name. Our Midwest-based Restoration Services Business Unit has regional offices serving clients across Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Kentucky. We provide a full range of ecological consulting and restoration services, with expertise in natural resource management, watershed planning, stream and ecosystem restoration, mitigation design, full wetland services, endangered species consulting, designing natural systems for stormwater/wastewater, archaeology, and green infrastructure, as well as regulatory permitting and compliance.


Harvest Energy Solutions

Harvest Energy Solutions is a full-service distributor, engineer and installer of renewable and energy saving products, specializing in rural residential, agricultural and commercial energy solutions throughout the Midwest. From product selection and site assessment to on-site installation and follow-up maintenance, the company partners with its customers throughout the entire process. Since 2006, Harvest Energy’s goal has been to assist farmers and ranchers, businesses and home owners, in becoming more sustainable, efficient and independent with renewable energy. Our staff includes NABCEP certified installers and NABCEP certified PV technical sales professionals. Other products include HVLS fans, solar water pumps, agricultural LED lighting, off-grid solar systems, solar charging tables, and other lifestyle products.


Patriot Solar Group

We are a proud Michigan company that is dedicated to becoming one of the most recognized brands in the solar industry. Patriot Solar Group is embedded in a long line of history, which started in 1992 as Patriot Antenna Systems. President, Jeffery Mathie, lead this company to the top of the telecommunications industry reaching $40,000,000 in Annuals Sales and was recognized as an Inc. 500 Company. Over 8 Million systems were deployed worldwide until Patriot Antenna Systems was sold in 2006. Patriot Solar Group branched out to become self-sustaining. A manufacturer of solar mounting systems, Patriot offers a full line of products including fixed position ground mounts, roof mounts, pole mounts, single and dual-axis tracking systems along with multiple off-grid power systems. Our company also offers commercial installation services, which includes post pounding, racking assembly and panel installation.


Michigan Energy Clips

An investigation into the adequacy of Michigan’s electric generation capacity has triggered concern from the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) about the potential for “reliability challenges” during peak demand times as soon as next summer, MIRS reports.

Crain’s Detroit Business wrote two stories on alternative energy suppliers and why they are concerned why they are concerned with the current energy debate in Lansing.

Sempra US Gas and Power has acquired the 100 MW Apple Blossom wind farm in Huron County from Michigan EIBC member, Geronimo Energy LLC, North American Wind Power reports.

The Wall Street Journal cited the Ludington Pumped Storage Facility as part of a larger story on the role of pumped storage in the nation’s energy mix.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network reports on the contributions related to the state’s energy overhaul legislation, with 141 of 145 state legislators receiving contributions from DTE energy and Consumers Energy.


National Energy News

The White House rolled out a series of new actions to accelerate the use of electric vehicles, the Hill reports.

Baltimore is partnering with the Department of Energy to develop a strategy to make solar more affordable, Utility Dive reports.

Target’s new wind power-purchase agreement will offset 100 percent of their electricity demands for 60 stores, Windpower Engineering reports.

Elon Musk unveiled Tesla’s new vision for SolarCity and car sharing, Forbes reports.

Google is using artificial intelligence to monitor its data centers’ energy usage, resulting in 40% energy savings, Bloomberg reports.

Missouri has joined California as the second state to authorize residential PACE financing, Midwest Energy News reports.

GM’s first fully autonomous vehicle will be all-electric, and will launch on the car sharing app system Lyft, Tech Insider reports.

Banks and large pension funds are increasingly seeing renewable energy as safe and attractive investments, GreenBiz reports.


Michigan Energy Events
The 2016 Michigan Energy Providers Conference will take place on July 27-29 at Crystal Mountain Resort and Spa in Thompsonville. Michigan EIBC is a Gold sponsor for this event.

Michigan State University Extension will be hosting a tour of West Michigan dairy farms utilizing energy efficiency and renewable energy to save on electricity costs on August 17

The U.S. Department of Energy’s CHP Technical Assistance Partnership is hosting a half-day session on Combined Heat and Power Opportunities for Michigan Healthcare Providers on Monday, August 22 at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Detroit.

The next Michigan EIBC Michigan Energy Forum networking event will take place Thursday, September 8 at Rockford Construction in Grand Rapids. The event also includes a tour of Rockford’s operations and affiliated enterprises, as well as a policy update and opportunities for networking. The event is free for Michigan EIBC members; $25 for non-members.

The fifth annual Heating the Midwest with Renewable Biomass Conference will be held October 11-13 in Harris, Michigan at the Island Resort and Conference Center.

SAVE THE DATE: The 4th Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala will be held Thursday, November 10 in East Lansing.

National Events
Solar Power International is scheduled for September 12-15 in Las Vegas.
The Battery Show, collocated with the Critical Power Expo and Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo, will be held in Novi from September 13-15.

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.