Newsletter: Consumers Energy Releases Forward Thinking IRP; Holds EV Convening on Charging Infrastructure Deployment

This newsletter was originally published on June 20, 2018.

Consumers Energy Releases Forward Thinking IRP

Last Wednesday, June 13, Consumers Energy unveiled an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) that would include phasing out coal plants and investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency, including dramatically increasing solar energy to the tune of 6 GW by 2040. Michigan EIBC president Liesl Eichler Clark issued the following statement regarding the plan.

“Michigan EIBC appreciates the work of Consumers Energy in developing the first Integrated Resource Plan through an open engagement process as laid out by the 2016 energy legislation. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with Consumers Energy as it increases deployment of important advanced energy technologies like energy efficiency, demand response and renewables. Advanced energy contributes to job growth, lower electric bills for Michigan ratepayers, and infrastructure investment in communities hosting renewable energy sites. Michigan EIBC remains focused on supporting Michigan’s advanced energy Industry in pursuit of a forward-looking energy future.”

Michigan EIBC will continue to review the details of the IRP and looks forward to collaborating with member companies to ensure that Michigan’s advanced energy economy benefits from and is included in this plan.


Michigan EIBC Holds EV Convening on Charging Infrastructure Deployment

On Thursday, June 14, 2018, Michigan EIBC held its third of five electric vehicle (EV) convenings at the Michigan Agency for Energy’s office in Lansing. The meeting – attended by leaders in mobility and energy storage, state regulators, and other interested parties – focused on DC fast charging, long-dwell charging, and charging infrastructure deployment.

Michigan EIBC president Liesl Eichler Clark kicked off the meeting with an overview of Michigan’s progress on vehicle electrification, including the Michigan Public Service Commission’s EV Technical Conferences, the Institute for Energy Innovation’s MEC4: Powering Mobility Conference and release of the “Powering the Mobility Revolution” report, and Michigan EIBC’s first two EV convenings.

Next, Jeff Mason, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, shared that EV deployment is expected to be 30% worldwide with 36 million vehicles by 2040 and that Michigan’s aim is to be front and center. Mason said the convergence of energy and mobility is an important strategic point for Michigan to solve correctly. Michigan needs to invest in adequate charging infrastructure to support consumer adoption, Mason argued. Mason pointed out that Michigan is in a unique position due to the strength of the vehicle and battery industry, including important development in supporting markets like electrolytes, cathodes and more. By 2040, Merrill Lynch data expects EVs to be cheaper than ICEs.

Next, Shanna Draheim, Director of Policy Development for the Michigan Municipal League, and Jukka Kukkonen, founder of PlugInConnect, spoke on a panel about residential and workplace charging. Draheim explained that investing in advanced mobility, vehicle electrification and EV charging can make communities more attractive to potential residents and businesses. Kukkonen discussed that the best way for utilities to create a sound environment for EVs is to look at the bigger picture and understand the needs of building owners and other stakeholders. He described several common utility EV programs, including time-of-use rates and hourly pricing, charging infrastructure incentives, controlled charging programs such as load sharing and smart charging, and workplace, apartment and condo charging programs. Ultimately, Kukkonen argued that utilities should spend more time and money investing in apartment and condominium charging programs, because the ability to charge at home can make a significant impact for multi-unit dwelling residents. Finally, he emphasized that utilities need to be ready to adjust their programs as markets change.

After the panel on residential and workplace charging, Robert Jackson, Director of the Michigan Agency for Energy (MAE), discussed ways to set the stage for DC fast charging in Michigan. MAE leads the strategic development for the Michigan Volkswagen settlement funds  and has commissioned a study by Michigan State University to assess the optimal locations for highway DCFCs in Michigan.

Next, MPSC Commissioner Norm Saari moderated a panel on accelerating DCFC deployment in Michigan, with Marcy Bauer, Director of Program Operations for EVGo and Sophie Shulman, Business Development and Partnerships Manager for Electrify America, as panelists. Bauer touched on the importance of giving new EV drivers, especially renters and test drivers, positive first DCFC experiences to help break down barriers for the next level of EV adoption. She emphasized that customers’ DCFC experiences need to not only be convenient and easy, but fast. Shulman noted that the primary barriers to EV adoption are lack of charging infrastructure, slow charging speeds, and lack of customer awareness. She emphasized the importance of having accessible and visible DCFC stations along the highway, having multiple chargers at each station to account for maintenance issues and queuing, and partnering with businesses to give customers something to do while their car is charging.

Matt Stanberry with Advanced Energy Economy closed the 3rd EV Convening by highlighting issues for participants to continue to think about, including policies around multi-unit dwellings, ways to build additional public-private partnerships, ways to build flexible and adaptable technology, and the importance of DCFC deployment and partnerships to enable EV adoption.

The fourth EV Convening, which will cover fleet deployment, is scheduled for July 18 at the Michigan Agency for Energy’s office in Lansing. Interested parties can register here.


Residential Solar Property Tax Exemption Bills Pass House

Before the beginning of summer recess, two bills to clarify the tax status of distributed generation (DG) projects passed the Michigan House of Representatives. The bills, HB 5143 and HB 5680, were introduced by Representative Tom Barrett. HB 5143 would reinstate a tax exemption for “alternative energy personal property,” including solar PV, fuel cell, wind, combined heat and power, and storage systems which offset the host’s energy use.  HB 5680 would add alternative energy systems to the list of repairs and household upgrades that are not considered when determining the true cash value of a property for assessment purposes, until the property is sold.

Michigan EIBC has been actively supportive of these bills. The legislation is necessary to avoid the current confusion and patchwork system of interpretation and enforcement around taxation of distributed energy systems. Michigan EIBC president Liesl Eichler Clark explained that the taxes on residential solar panels are currently assessed inconsistently across the state. “In some cases they get panels up and then get a bill in the mail and installers had no idea assessors are assessing [residential solar installations] in that community,” she said.

Even more confusing, perhaps, is the logic behind the tax in the first place: “You don’t tax my generator,” Clark explained, so “why tax my solar panels?”


Michigan Energy Stories

  • House Bills 5143 and 5680, which clarify tax exemptions for residential alternative energy systems, passed the State House on Tuesday, June 19.
  • Senator John Proos’ utility tax exemption bill is facing opposition from local leaders. The bill would reduce revenue by more than $600 million over ten years.
  • Hampton Township is preparing for tax revenue loss following planned closures of Consumers Energy’s coal plants.
  • DTE Energy is seeking a tax exemption for its Fermi nuclear plant.
  • Enbridge, the owner of the Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac, is estimating that a tunnel beneath the Straits for the pipeline could cost up to $500 million and take six years to build.
  • Advocates are encouraging the Grand Haven Board of Light & Power to adopt on-bill financing to help customers pay for energy efficiency upgrades.
  • The University of Michigan’s Graham Sustainability Institute awarded thousands of dollars in grants.
  • A Traverse City Record-Eagle open editorial written by Tom Porter, executive in residence at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, argues that state universities should be clean energy leaders.
  • The Charlevoix County Community Foundation, Petoskey-Harbor Springs Community Foundation and Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation received a $60,000 grant from the C.S. Mott Foundation to support local efforts to advance the use of clean and renewable energy, particularly in the Charlevoix, Harbor Springs, Petoskey and Traverse City communities.
  • Michigan EIBC member company Geronimo Energy is eyeing Genesee Township for a possible 400-acre solar farm.

Michigan Energy Leaders


National Energy Stories

  • President Trump named Daniel Simmons, a former fossil fuel lobbyist who co-authored a report denying climate change, to lead the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
  • California lawmakers are again considering legislation to expand the state’s power grid to include as many as 14 states.
  • The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission unanimously stated that closing uneconomic coal and nuclear plants does not pose a threat to the grid, in direct contradiction to the Trump administration’s pro-coal and nuclear platform.
  • Puerto Rico’s grid is in still in worse shape than it was before Hurricane Maria, which raises concern for the potential of future blackouts as hurricane season approaches again.
  • Cities across the country are turning to virtual power purchase agreements to reach clean energy goals.

National Energy Leaders

  • A Kansas city increased its renewable portfolio beyond 30% after purchasing energy from a new wind project.
  • The Massachusetts Senate approved legislation to promote energy storage, increase renewable portfolio standards, and raise the solar net metering cap.

Michigan Energy Events
On July 17-19, PlugVolt will be hosting its next Battery Seminar in Plymouth, Michigan (USA), featuring an entire day of in-depth training by EnerDelon Lithium Ion technology, alongside complementary industry updates by automotive and grid storage OEMs, global battery manufacturers and Tier 1 suppliers. Attendees also get a tour of Intertek’s Battery Testing Center. Register here.

Michigan EIBC’s fourth EV Convening on fleet deployment is scheduled for July 18 at the Michigan Agency for Energy’s office in Lansing. Register here.

A program has been released for IPU’s 60th Annual Regulatory Studies Program, including Fundamentals (August 6-10) and Intermediate (August 13-17) Programs.

On August 15, Michigan EIBC will host its fifth EV Convening on rate design and future engagement at the Michigan Agency for Energy’s office in Lansing. Watch your inboxes for registration details.

IEI is hosting a Mobility 101 Lunch & Learn at the House Office Building in Lansing on September 12. This event will be open to legislators and legislative staff, as well as Michigan EIBC members. Watch your inboxes for registration details.

Michigan EIBC will host a members-only election recap on Friday, November 9. Watch your inboxes for registration details.

Save the Date: Michigan EIBC’s Annual Energy Innovator’s Gala is scheduled for Wednesday, November 14, in Lansing. Watch your inboxes for a formal invitation, agenda, and registration details.

IEI will host a Corporate Purchasers Lunch & Learn at the House Office Building in Lansing on December 5. This event will be open to legislators and legislative staff, as well as Michigan EIBC members. Watch your inboxes for registration details.

National Energy Events   
Groundworks is hosting the MI Clean Energy Expo and Conference on June 22 in Traverse City. Register here.

EUCI invites you to the Fundamentals of Distributed Resource (DER) System Planning conference on June 25 – 26 in Chicago, Illinois. Register here.

The 2018 Renewable Energy Conference: A Leadership Forum on Energy Policy, June 26 in Poughkeepsie, New York, will feature IBM’s Dr. John Kelly. Don’t miss the premier renewable energy conference on the East Coast! Register today!

You’re invited to the Grid Evolution Summit hosted by Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA), in Washington, D.C., July 9-12Register here.

Registration is now open for the TransGrid-X 2030 Symposium, July 26, in Ames, Iowa. The event will showcase the long-awaited NREL Seam Study — a concept featuring bi-directional high-voltage transmission; 600 GW of wind, solar and gas-fired generation; and a trillion-dollar economic event, if fully built.

EUCI invites you to the Compensation for Distributed Energy Resources in a Low-Cost Marginal World conference, July 30-31 in Austin, Texas. Register here.

EUCI invites you to the Smart Cities 2018 Conference on August 13-14 in Columbus, Ohio. Register here.

The 2018 Veteran’s Energy Seminar Series is scheduled for San Diego (8/18), Chicago (8/30), Boston (9/27) and Washington DC (11/13). If you are interested in speaking or sponsoring an event, please visit or

EUCI invites you to the Retooling PURPA conference on August 20-21 in Atlanta, Georgia. Register here.

EUCI invites you to Renewable Energy 101, September 10-11, in Chicago, Illinois. Register here.

EUCI invites you to the “Land Lease Agreements for Renewable Energy 101” conference on September 13-14, in Austin, Texas. Register here.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) invite you to Solar Power International, September 24-27, in Anaheim, California. Registration opens in spring of 2018 here.

EUCI invites you to a FERC Transmission Ratemaking Conference, October 1 – 2, in Denver, Colorado. Register here.

Announcements and Opportunities
A podcast covers the energy and climate races to watch in the 2018 midterm election.