Newsletter: Wind Wins Across America; MPSC Drives Forward on Clean Fuel Vehicles

This newsletter was originally published on August 11, 2017.

Wind Wins Across America

It’s Wind Week in America! What better time to reflect on the progress being made, and the opportunities for future growth for this clean, low cost sources of energy. Wind energy is gaining momentum across America, with technological innovations and policy changes suggesting that we will see more and more wind farms in the near future. This growth is especially prominent in red states, where consumers choose wind for its economic benefits.

Turbines continue to become more and more efficient through technological innovation and improvements to the grid. One significant area of innovation is off-shore wind farms, which have been popping up on the east and west coasts of the country, and there is potential for development in the Great Lakes as well. A University of Virginia researcher is designing 1600-foot-high offshore wind turbines because the “larger a turbine, the more powerful and efficient it becomes, and that reduces the cost of energy.” Developers are also finding ways to improve the reliability of wind energy technology, including ensuring proper grid interconnection technology prevents production losses. This effort is aided by policy support, with lawmakers proposing an investment tax credit specifically for offshore wind, which could even apply to future projects in the Great Lakes.

Source: Dong Energy.

Of course, wind energy remains strong in America’s Great Plains states, where powerful gusts provide a significant amount of necessary power. Many of the states that get most of their power from wind turbines are conservative states, showing that advanced energy is more of an economic issue than a political one. In fact, 69% of the wind power produced in the country comes from states that voted Republican last November. These red states are some of the leaders in wind energy:

  • Iowa gets 37% of its energy, or 20.4 MWH, from wind.
  • Kansas gets 31% of its energy from wind, or 15.1 MWH.
  • South Dakota gets 29%, or 3.2 MWH, of its energy from wind.
  • Oklahoma gets 28% of its energy from wind, which comes out to 21.4 MWH.
  • North Dakota gets 23%, or 8.8 MWH, from wind.
  • Idaho also draws over 78% of its energy from advanced resources – about 15% of which, or 2.3 MWH, is from wind.
  • Texas produces the most wind energy overall, with 61 MWH, or 13% of its energy.

Here in Michigan, our rural communities have benefited from the growth of wind development, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars in additional tax revenue. In fact, counties with wind projects were some of the only places in Michigan to see property values increase over the last decade, and those same counties were the only ones not forced to cut services during the recent recession. Moreover, with wind declining in cost by more than 60% since 2009, wind is now Michigan’s cheapest generation resource – something that benefits all of us.

Michigan EIBC looks forward to continue to work with communities, policymakers, corporate purchasers, and others to build on this momentum, and continue to make Michigan a great state for wind development. Happy Wind Week!

Michigan Public Service Commission Hosts Conference on Clean Fuel Vehicles

The Michigan Public Service Commission this week hosted a one-day conference on alternative fuel vehicles, highlighting the growth in the market and the needs around building out electric vehicle charging infrastructure in order to support future growth. More than 130 attendees heard comments from a range of public and private sector leaders, including representatives from Michigan EIBC members ChargePoint and Siemens, as well as Ford Motor Company, General Motors, the Center for Automotive Research, the Edison Electric Institute, Consumers Energy, DTE Energy, and NGV America, among others.

A consistent theme throughout the conference was the Michigan Public Service Commission and Michigan utilities have a critical role to play in growing the market for electric vehicle charging, and that urgent action is needed to build out Michigan’s EV charging infrastructure. Public DC fast charging stations and workplace charging were both highlighted as key drivers for EV adoption.

The MPSC also has an open comment period surrounding issues relating to electric vehicle charging in infrastructure, with the Commission issuing a press release the day of the conference seeking additional comment.

Michigan Energy News:

  • Rep. Gary Glenn criticized a potential move by the MPSC that would require energy providers to supply their customers using electricity generated in the state. Glenn, the Chairman of the House Energy Policy Committee, said the move would limit electric choice in the state.
  • The MPSC opened a public comment period on the draft plans submitted by the state’s two largest utilities that outline the reliability of their power distribution systems.
  • Michigan regulators say the Lower Peninsula’s capacity needs will be met over the next five years, but plans to close a series of coal plant make the future uncertain.
  • Officials in Ann Arbor, Michigan, are considering a countywide tax to fund advanced energy initiatives, including solar on city buildings and electric vehicles for public employees.
  • Alger Delta Cooperative, an electric cooperative utility in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula will add to its wind energy portfolio through a 132-megawatt project set to come online next year. The project is being developed by Michigan EIBC member company Invenergy.
  • Michigan EIBC Board Member Carla Walker-Miller of Walker-Miller Energy Serviceswas named a finalist the Third Annual Governor’s Energy Excellence Innovator of the Year award.
  • An ongoing trade dispute is causing uncertainty in the state’s solar industry.

News from Washington:

  • The Interior Department rescinded an Obama-era rule that reformed how energy companies value coal extracted from federal and tribal lands.
  • Most energy and environment staff positions at the White House science office remain vacant.
  • The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regained a quorum for the first time since February after the Senate approved the nominations of Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson. Two seats remain open on the commission. Chatterjee was named Acting Chair pending the Senate confirmation of Kevin McIntyre.

National Grid and Efficiency News:

National Solar News:

National Bioenergy News:

  • Biomass power plants are seeing a surge in development in the Southeast, with one advocate calling it “the new coal.”
  • Sources say the EPA will reject an overhaul of the U.S. biofuels program, dealing a blow to independent oil refiners.

National Fossil Fuel and Nuclear News:

  • North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration is hosting public hearings this week on President Trump’s proposed drilling off the state’s coast.
  • Increased coal shipments are helping boost Indiana’s ports.
  • BP has hit one of the most productive natural gas wells in the San Juan Basin in New Mexico in more than a decade.
  • South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster began pursuing alternatives to complete one of the two costly unfinished nuclear reactors abandoned by utility companies last week. Otherwise, the state would lose out on other energy options and local ratepayers would have to pay for an unfinished project.

National Technology and Market News:

  • The utility arm of Berkshire Hathaway has been pushing back against a federal law that requires utilities in states to purchase renewable energy from independent producers.
  • The market for hydrogen fuel may be in homes, not cars.

National Vehicle and Mobility News:

Michigan Energy Events:
SAVE THE DATE: The Powering Mobility conference will take place on September 25 at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. The event, which is the 4th Annual Michigan Energy Future Conference, will bring together leaders from industry, government, utilities, finance, and academe working at the nexus of advanced mobility and vehicle electrification.

The 1st Annual Sustainable Detroit Forum is scheduled for October 25. The event will consist of interactive learning, keynotes, and short presentations. Proposals for presentations will be accepted for Sustainable ProjectsPersonal Green Stories, and Lessons Learned/Greatest Failures.

National Energy Events:
EUCI is hosting “Addressing Process and Technical Issues for Renewable and Distributed Energy Resources” August 14-15 in Chicago. The conference will serve as a forum for all entities involved in the interconnection process to review process and technical issues for interconnecting grid-scale renewable energy and Distributed Energy Resource (DER) projects. Panel sessions will feature the perspectives of distribution, developers, utilities, and system operators to share their expertise and discuss best practices for optimizing the interconnection process. Register here.

Mark your calendars for the Catalysts of the Climate Economy summit in Burlington, Vermont, September 6-8. This event will focus on ways to accelerate economic development for a low-carbon future. The event will feature speakers, round-table discussions, and other forums with entrepreneurs, investors, and thoughts leaders. Speakers include EIBC member company Generate Capital’s Jigar Shah; Danny Kennedy of the CA Clean Energy Fund; Carol Browner, Former Climate and Energy Czar in the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy; and CEOs and leaders from Patagonia, Green Mountain Power, Stonyfield Yogurt, General Motors, Seventh Generation, Ben and Jerry’s, Fetzer Vineyards, Proterra, Generation Investment Management, and more!

Solar Power International will take place September 10-13 in Las Vegas. Powered by the Solar Energy Industries Association and the Smart Electric Power Alliance, SPI is the largest and fastest growing solar show in North America.

Renewable Energy Grid Operations: Integration, Forecasting, Modeling, Planning and Curtailment, hosted by EUCI, is scheduled for September 11-12 in Austin, Texas. This conference will evaluate the biggest challenges to renewable energy integration, and identify solutions and pathways that coordinate responses and overcome these challenges. Case studies from experts and industry professionals from around the country will share their experiences and lessons learned on renewable integration. Register here.

ACORE Finance West will take place in San Francisco on October 12. The annual conference highlights top investment opportunities and provide the latest insights on the financing of renewable energy and grid modernization efforts in leading western markets.

Join SEIA and Smart Electric Power Alliance for Solar Power Midwest in Chicago, October 19-20. The event features multiple networking and educational opportunities with a targeted, buying audience.

The 2017 U.S. Power and Renewables Summit will take place in Austin on November 7-8. The conference, hosted by Greentech Media, provides an in-depth look at how solar, wind, and related renewable energy technologies are impacting power markeys, and how this interaction is raising key questions and challenges for the industry moving forward.

The U.S. Energy Storage Summit 2017 is taking place December 12-13 in San Francisco. Now in its third year, this event brings together utilities, financiers, regulators, technology innovators, and storage practitioners for two full days of data-intensive presentations, analyst-led panel sessions with industry leaders, and extensive, high-level networking.

Additional Resources:
A website from the Michigan Public Service Commission provides details on updates to state energy laws. For more information, or to sign up for notifications, visit

World Resources Institute recently published an Implementation Guide for Utilities, outlining best practices in designing renewable energy projects to meet large energy customers’ needs.

ARPA-E announced up to $20 million in funding for high efficiency Distributed Generation systems to reduce the cost and increase the energy efficiency associated with providing electric power to commercial and industrial end users. Additional information, including the full FOA and how to find project teaming partners, is available on ARPA-E’s online application portal, ARPA-E eXCHANGE.

The EPA is creating a new energy efficiency recognition program for commercial tenants! Anyone who leases a commercial office space can apply here (the deadline for this initial application is August 15).

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in partnership with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is initiating a three-year analytical support program for state public utility commissions (PUCs). PUCs will have access to in-depth analytical support from the national laboratories on topics related to distribution utility planning and regulatory, policy, programmatic, and technology assessments of distributed energy resources (DER). The national laboratories will work with up to five PUCs over the course of one year, beginning in October 2017, to provide neutral decision support through data-driven modeling, tools, and direct technical assistance from subject matter experts.  Assistance may include: analysis support; stakeholder-convened discussions; education and training through workshops and webinars; and consultations with technical experts. Applications can be downloaded here.