Newsletter: Wind Sparks Gains in Local Property

This newsletter was originally published on March 21, 2017.

Wind development proves bright spot amid overall decline in Michigan property values
A report out this week from Bridge Michigan found a steep drop in property values between 2008-2016, with residential, commercial, and industrial classes all seeing significant reductions in total value. In fact, only 7 municipalities of more than 10,000 people saw overall property value increase during that period.

A closer look, however, reveals the extent to which wind development in Michigan – sparked by the 2008 legislation that required utilities to get 10% of their generation from renewable sources by 2015 (now 15% by 2021) – helped a number of rural townships buck the statewide trend and see significant increases in property values, helping fund essential local services and reducing pressure on local taxpayers. Indeed, only the agricultural sector saw an overall increase, and that was concentrated in areas that saw wind development. The following maps show the overlap between property value increases – concentrated in the Thumb and mid-Michigan – and the development of wind projects in those same areas:

The development of Michigan’s wind resources has helped Michigan’s economy in a number of concrete and measurable ways, including reducing pressure on ratepayers as greater amounts of wind – the lowest cost generation resource available – come online, and spurring more than $3 billion in private investment during the height of the recession. But the data released this week also shows the impact wind development has had in helping local communities keep their heads above water even as property values in the rest of Michigan declined dramatically.

Trump Budget proposal eliminates Energy Star, ARPA-E, State Energy Program, and many others
In a budget outline unveiled last week, the Trump Administration provided some additional details on his plans to reshape federal spending, including a 31% reduction of the EPA’s budget, a 16% cut to the Department of Commerce, and would add $1.4 billion to the Department of Energy’s program that safeguards the nation’s nuclear arsenal while cutting more than $3 billion from other DOE programs.

Among the programs affected are the elimination of the Department of Commerce’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership; the elimination of the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) and the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program and other Title 17 Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Programs, on the basis that “the private sector is better positioned to finance disruptive energy research and development and to commercialize innovative technologies;” the elimination of DOE’s Weatherization Assistance Program that funds energy efficiency improvements and the State Energy Program; a $2 billion cut to DOE’s offices of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Nuclear Energy, Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, and Fossil Energy Research and Development; and the elimination of more than 50 programs housed under EPA, including the ENERGY STAR program. In addition to the budget proposal, continued reports suggest the Trump administration is readying action to reverse a number of Obama-era initiatives, including the Clean Power Plan, with possible action coming as soon as this week.

DTE Electric President Trevor Lauer, MPSC Chairman Sally Talberg and Commissioners Eubanks and Saari confirmed for Michigan EIBC 5th Annual Member Meeting

DTE Electric President Trevor Lauer, along with all three Michigan Public Service Commissioners and the mayors of both Grand Rapids and Traverse City, are confirmed as speakers for Michigan EIBC’s 5th Annual Member Meeting, which will take place on Wednesday, April 26 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing. This annual event brings together leaders in Michigan’s advanced energy industry, utility executives, policymakers, regulators, and others.

This year’s Annual Member Meeting will feature discussions on a range of advanced energy issues, from mobility and advanced transportation to grid modernization to what the new energy law means for your business. Specific discussion topics include:

  •  Building the Market: Corporate Advanced Energy Procurement
  • Cities Driving the Energy Transformation
  • Driving Efficiency and Innovation through Advanced Lighting
  • The Cutting Edge: Building an Energy Innovation Ecosystem
  • Selling Projects Under the New RPS: New Markets, New Challenges
  • From Energy Optimization to Energy Waste Reduction: The Role of CHP, Demand Response, and Load Management in the New Efficiency Landscape
  • Energy, Mobility, and the Future of Transportation
  • The Future of Electricity: Technology Transforming the Grid
  • What’s Ahead in this Legislative Session

In addition to DTE’s Lauer, MPSC Chairman Talberg, Commissioners Eubanks and Saari, and Mayors Bliss and Carruthers, the Annual Member Meeting also features confirmed speakers from the American Center for Mobility, Bratic Enterprises, ChargePoint, EnerNOC, General Motors, Growth Capital Network, Lincus, Michigan CAT, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Michigan Public Power Agency, Sustainable Partners, and toggled, with additional speakers confirmed daily.

Sponsorship opportunities are also available. The Annual Member Meeting attracts a broad range of industry leaders from renewable energy, energy efficiency, transportation, and the utility sector. Sponsors will have direct access to industry leaders during this day-long conference that offers unique insight and unmatched networking opportunities. Current sponsors include:

New/ Renewing Members

ChargePoint brings electric vehicle (EV) charging to more people and places than ever before with the world’s largest and most open EV charging network. We design, build and support all of the technology that powers this network, from charging station hardware to energy management software to a mobile app. Our work transforms transportation and energy use by helping more people choose to drive electric.

Saginaw Future Inc.
Saginaw Future is in the business of generating new investment and job growth in Saginaw County, MI, US. Established in 1992, SFI is a private, nonprofit alliance of local businesses, the Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce, the County and City of Saginaw, 15 local municipalities, labor organizations and local foundations.

Saginaw Future assists companies with Financial and Incentive Packaging, identifying State Business Opportunity Programs, Government Contracting, Site Location Assistance, Shovel-ready FREE land, Industrial Site Development, Business Advocacy and Community Liaison assistance, Workforce Development needs and more!

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) recently announced that Saginaw Future Inc. (SFI) has been recognized as one of 44 economic development organizations accredited by IEDC as an Accredited Economic Development Organization (AEDO).

Michigan Energy News

  • The Michigan Agency for Energy and the Michigan Public Service Commission last week launched a new website covering the various proceedings and issues involved in the implementation of PA 341 and 342 of 2016, the overhaul of Michigan’s energy laws, which Governor Snyder signed into law in December. The website – – includes details on a range of issues, including the development of the framework for the integrated resource plans (IRPs) required of the utilities, restructuring of the state’s net metering program into a distributed generation program, a new voluntary green pricing program, updates to renewable energy and energy waste reduction plans, implementation of demand response programs, a new on-bill finance program, a review of PURPA avoided cost issues, and a number of other elements.
  • Governor Snyder announced this week that he was reappointing Commissioner Rachael Eubanks for a full six-year term on the Michigan Public Service Commission. In addition, Snyder announced he was extending MPSC Chairman Sally Talberg’s term until 2021, while shortening Commissioner Norm Saari’s term, which will now end in 2019.
  • U.S. Senator Gary Peters told the Detroit News editorial board he continues to believe Michigan could be the global epicenter for self-driving vehicles, and has been working with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Senator John Thune (R-SD), and others to build a regulatory framework that addresses safety while also encouraging innovation.
  • The Michigan Public Service is planning a technical conference to explore opportunities to expand electric vehicle charging infrastructure in Michigan, with Commissioner Norm Saari noting that while Michigan leads the nation in EV manufacturing, it has slipped to 11th in EV deployment. The article also quotes Michigan EIBC President Liesl Eichler Clark, as well as testimony submitted by Michigan EIBC member company ChargePoint.
  • Following the recent wind storms that knocked out power to more than 1 million Michigan homes and businesses, a number of news stories are noting that Michigan lags near the bottom on reliability metrics, ranking fourth in the number of outages over the last six years, and worst in the nation in outages on a per capita basis. Yet some are hoping this recent outage could spur greater utility investment in distribution systems and grid modernization, including a Crain’s Detroit Businessarticle that quotes Michigan EIBC’s Dan Scripps.
  • Consumers Energy is teaming up with Lakeshore Advantage, an Ottawa County economic develop agency, to install energy infrastructure at a local industrial park, part of the utility’s “Energy Ready” program that anticipates redevelopment by proactively installing energy infrastructure, helping to save money and time in the redevelopment process.
  • The Michigan South Central Power Agency, which serves customers in Clinton, Coldwater, Hillsdale, Marshall, and Union City, has settled a dispute over transmission costs with the Michigan Electric Transmission Company, a subsidiary of Michigan EIBC member ITC.
  • The investors looking to redevelop the Keeler Building in downtown Grand Rapids are eying Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing as one option to fund elements that significantly reduce the building’s energy usage, though some local leaders voiced skepticism about PACE’s benefits. Kent County has not yet joined the 20 Michigan counties – including 8 of the 10 largest counties in the state – enrolled in the Lean & Green Michigan statewide PACE pool. Curt Monhart of Michigan EIBC member Energy Alliance Group was also quoted in this story, highlighting the benefits of PACE as a financing option.
  • Huron County is considering a one year moratorium on commercial solar development in county-zoned areas to give it enough time to develop a zoning ordinance governing solar. The move comes in response to lease agreements signed by some county residents with Cyprus Creek Renewables, a Michigan EIBC member company.
  • An East Lansing church has installed a 20 kW solar array to help meet its energy needs. The 70-panel system was interconnected with Lansing Board of Water and Light earlier this month, and is expected to reduce the church’s demand for electricity by 35%.
  • Nominations are now open for the 2017 Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards, which recognize energy efficiency projects completed in 2016. The deadline for applications is March 31, 2017.

National Energy News

Michigan Energy Events
The Institute of Public Utilities will host Grid School 2017 from March 27-30 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing.

The 2017 Michigan Battle of the Buildings Energy Summit is taking place Wednesday, April 19 at the JW Marriott in Grand Rapids. The event includes a plenary address by Michigan Agency for Energy Director Valerie Brader, an awards presentation, panel discussions, and more.

Michigan EIBC’s 5th Annual Member Meeting will take place on Wednesday, April 26 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing. This annual event brings together leaders in Michigan’s advanced energy industry, utility executives, policymakers, regulators, and others. Past speakers have included Congressman Mike Bishop (R-Mich.), MPSC Chairman Sally Talberg, Senate Energy Chair Mike Nofs (R-Battle Creek) Consumers Energy CEO Patti Poppe, Invenergy CEO Michael Polsky, and former CLEAResult CEO Glenn Garland. This year’s Annual Member Meeting will feature discussions on grid modernization and infrastructure, corporate procurement of advanced energy, and how energy, IT, and transportation are converging to create the new mobility industry, among many others. Registration is open now, and sponsorship opportunities are also available.

The Michigan Geothermal Energy Association is hosting its 2017 annual meeting on April 26-27 at the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mt. Pleasant. Trevor Lauer, president and chief operating officer of DTE Electric, will speak at the dinner on April 26. More information is available by contacting Larry Kaufman by email or at 248-396-8231.

The 2017 Energy Efficiency Conference and Exhibition, hosted by DTE Energy and the Engineering Society of Detroit, will take place May 9 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. The conference is now accepting proposals for presentations on topics related to energy efficiency.

TRC is hosting a two-day conference on Developing Solar on Landfills and Brownfields on June 12-13 in Chicago. The events brings together landowners, who will learn about how to turn their brownfield liabilities into clean energy assets, while solar developers will learn how to choose and develop on brownfields.

National Energy Events
The 2017 ACEEE/ CEE National Symposium on Market Transformation will take place April 2-4 in Washington D.C. The theme for this year’s conference is ‘Innovative Approaches from Emerging Technologies to Market Transformation.’

The Energy Storage Association’s 27th Annual Conference and Expo is taking place April 18-20 in Denver. This event brings together leaders in the global energy industry working at the nexus of policy, technology and markets for energy storage.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s annual Future of Energy Summit will take place April 24-25 in New York. This annual event brings together traditional players and advanced energy leaders to discuss the critical energy issues of today and the next decade.

The annual AWEA Windpower Conference is taking place May 22-25 in Anaheim, CA. The marquee event for the US wind industry returns with top-tier speakers, world-class education, cutting edge technology, and premium marketing.

Greentech Media’s Grid Edge World Forum 2017  will be held in San Jose, CA on June 27-29. As the only conference exclusively focused on emerging distributed energy system, this event highlights the trends, opportunities, and innovation happening at the grid edge.

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 now closed. 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.

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 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.