Notarizing Contracts with Social Distancing, MPSC Order on COVID-19 and More

Welcome to the weekly newsletter of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council (Michigan EIBC), the business voice for advanced energy in Michigan. Here’s what’s new this week:

Executive Order Helps Companies Sign Contracts Virtually

Gov. Whitmer recently signed an executive order clarifying that virtual notarization and e-signatures can go forward, giving many project developers more confidence that they can complete contracts while maintaining social distance. This is a great example of the business community, elected officials and regulators all working together to quickly adapt to the new world we are all trying to manage with the pandemic. 

At our April 3 Virtual Lunch & Learn with Dan Scripps, commissioner of the Michigan Public Service Commission, a conversation started about the difficulties social distancing poses for signing and notarizing contracts. Wind, solar, battery storage and other projects developed by Michigan EIBC members often require obtaining easements from landowners. That can be a big task, sometimes involving hundreds of contracts that need to be signed and notarized. Traditionally, that involves the parties going to the office of a public notary and signing the contract in person.

Clearly, the coronavirus makes meeting in-person something to be avoided unless absolutely necessary, but members were unsure of a virtual solution that would both pass legal muster and be easy and comfortable for landowners. Commissioner Scripps heard these concerns and took them to the governor’s office.

Then, on April 8, Gov. Whitmer issued an executive order declaring that “strict compliance” with the Michigan Law on Notarial Acts will be temporarily suspended “to the extent it requires a notary to be in the physical presence of an individual seeking the notary’s services or of any required witnesses.” In addition, the order also lays out conditions for conducting notarizations virtually using two-way real-time technology.

This order will allow project developers to complete contracts without fear of having to redo them later, all while adhering to the best public safety approach given the current crisis. 

Michigan Regulators Order Protections for Utility Customers Amid Pandemic

April 15 was a busy day at the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) with a number of orders, including approval of DTE’s revised integrated resource plan and several measures to ensure the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic does not interfere with utility customers’ access to safe, reliable and affordable energy.

This latter order includes a plan for the MPSC and energy providers to work together on how to keep energy waste reduction and demand response programs going while maintaining social distancing.

Read about the other provisions in the MPSC’s announcement

Earth Day Virtual Mini Conference Coming Soon

 This Earth Day Michigan EIBC is proud to bring together a distinguished set of experts to discuss these tough questions and reflect on sustainability, the advanced energy industry, and Earth Day in this time of change. The April 22 Earth Day Virtual Mini Conference will feature Liesl Eichler Clark, director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), Dr. Brandy Brown, climate and energy advisor at EGLE, Amy Butler of Michigan State University, Ryan Katofsky of Advanced Energy Economy, and Ian Adams of Clean Energy Trust. Michigan EIBC members, sponsors, and those with tickets to the postponed Annual Energy Innovators Conference (new date to be announced soon) are invited to join (contact us if you’d like to join!).

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Webinar on Federal Stimulus, COVID-19 and Advanced Energy

The new “Bring Your Own Lunch (& Learn)” continues on April 24, with guest speaker Dylan Reed of Advanced Energy Economy, who will discuss federal stimulus packages. Contact us to join, and stay tuned for more webinars in May. 


Ameresco CEO Talks Biogas, Energy Efficiency

In an interview with S&P Global Platts, George Sakellaris, CEO of Michigan EIBC member and global renewable energy and energy efficiency company Ameresco, talks about the outlook for Ameresco’s renewable natural gas projects, in which biogas generated by anaerobic digesters at wastewater treatment plants is converted into natural gas.

Ameresco has three of those projects under construction and five being planned in the U.S., driven by regulations pushing natural gas companies to reduce their carbon footprint, Sakellaris, said.

The COVID-19 crisis could delay some of these projects but he still expects them to go forward, noting that “we have been through crises before.”

The interview also tells Sakellaris’s personal journey from working as an engineer at power plants to working on energy efficiency efforts that make it unnecessary in some cases to build more power plants. “I always wanted to prove that energy efficiency is the best supply option that we have,” he said.  

Renewing Members

Growth Capital Network
Growth Capital Network manages education and development programs for the innovation and entrepreneurial community. This has included the million-dollar Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition (AMIC), researcher education for Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization program (M-TRAC) and the Midwest Green Technology Entrepreneur Academy (MI-GTEA). GCN also provides analytical and evaluative services to measure the impact of entrepreneurial and innovation programs for the foundation and non-profit community.

Southern Current
Diversified Solar Energy Provider Southern Current is a leading developer in the residential, commercial and utility-scale solar markets with hundreds of systems currently providing power to customers across the United States. Our integrated platform includes Project Development, Engineering, Construction, Maintenance, Finance, and Asset Management. Our mission is to help create a more reliable, economical and sustainable energy future for the United States.  

Michigan Energy News

  • The MPSC approves DTE Energy’s revised integrated resource plan, which includes an increase in energy waste reduction targets.
  • The Upper Peninsula Energy Task Force has received more than 800 public comments on its draft report on fixing propane supply issues in the UP.
  • Consumers Energy is contributing $1 million to various nonprofit organizations, food banks and community foundations to help with COVID-19 recovery, while DTE is donating masks to hospitals and partnering with the United Way.
  • The Michigan Public Service Commission requires energy providers to protect vulnerable customers and take other steps related to the coronavirus emergency.
  • The city of Ann Arbor wants to use community choice aggregation to meet its A2Zero emissions reductions goals, but that option would require a change in state law.

National Energy News

  • In order to help with suffering created by the pandemic, Michigan EIBC member EDP Renewables North America is committing $300,000 toward social investments, including support for food banks, in communities near its wind farms and solar parks in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
  • Michigan EIBC member Inovateus Solar has completed a solar project in Northwest Indiana that is expected to generate nearly 200,000 kWh of electricity each year.
  • Clean Power Alliance, a community choice aggregator in the Los Angeles area, signs a contract for a 100-MW proposed battery storage project.
  • A Wood Mackenzie report finds that worldwide EV sales could drop 43% this year due to impacts of the pandemic.
  • Duke Energy warns independent solar projects that it may need to curtail purchases during the coronavirus pandemic.

Online Resources

Due to the number of events that have been canceled or postponed due to the pandemic, we are sharing some online events, webinars and tutorials on advanced energy topics that may be of interest.

Due to COVID-19, PlugVolt is offering complimentary access to a webinar series that provides a guide to how to select primary and secondary cells for battery products.

The Small Business Association of Michigan has many online resources including Youtube webinars and daily video briefings about COVID-19 and how small businesses in Michigan can cope.

Norton Rose Fulbright regularly organizes webinars featuring experts and executives of major companies, such as this one on the challenges that COVID-19 and low commodity prices pose to the energy industry.

The Clean Energy Group has a huge archive of webinars and presentations related to net metering, energy efficiency, EVs, energy storage and much more.

The Energy Storage Association has a number of upcoming and recorded webinars covering many different facets of energy storage. 

Michigan Energy Events

 The Southeast Michigan PACE Summit in Ann Arbor, hosted by Michigan EIBC member Lean & Green Michigan, has been postponed from its previous April 15 date.

Michigan EIBC’s Earth Day Virtual Mini Conference is on April 22Contact us to find out how to join.

The Mid-America Regulatory Conference, an association of regional organizations of utility and regulatory agencies from 14 states, is holding its annual meeting in Grand Rapids on June 21-24

On July 21-23, 2020 PlugVolt will be hosting its next Battery Seminar in Plymouth, MI (USA), featuring an entire day of in-depth technical tutorials presented by renowned professors from several US universities on Day 1, followed by Days 2 and 3 with industry subject matter experts presenting on Automotive and Stationary Storage applications respectively. Attendees will also get an exclusive opportunity to tour A123 Systems’ new Novi, Michigan (USA) facility.

The NetZeroBuild Summit 2020, bringing together the key stakeholders involved in the Midwest’s value chain for net-zero construction in residential, commercial, academic and government buildings, is in Novi from August 25-26 (New dates due to delay related to the coronavirus.)  

National Energy Events

On April 21, Greentech Media is holding a webinar on “How To Sell Solar Remotely.”

PlugVolt has a webinar on April 22 about ongoing efforts to understand how lithium-ion batteries can withstand damage such as car crashes.

The Midwest Solar Expo, previously scheduled from May 19-21 in Minneapolis, has been postponed.  


The city of Grand Rapids Office of Sustainability and Performance Management has an opening for an internship. The deadline to apply is April 17.

5 Lakes Energy is seeking to hire a full-time campaign coordinator for the Land and Liberty Coalition, a Midwest regional collaborative fighting at the local level for the successful siting of renewable energy projects. Click here for the full job description including responsibilities, qualifications, and application instructions.

Ann Arbor Public Schools have an RFP for an electric bus charging station.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has two new RFPs related to renewable energy projects at the Oden Fish Hatchery. The RFPs are published on the state’s online bidding portal. Search for numbers 20*1376 and 20*1377 (Note: These RFPs have been put on hold until further notice).

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources also plans to publish a RFP for leasing state forest land to utility-scale solar arrays. Go to the online bidding portal and use commodity code 91018 – Energy Systems, Solar Installation Systems.

The Detroit 2030 District is a free program that challenges Detroit building owners and managers to reduce wasted energy. Those that achieve the greatest reductions from the prior-year baseline will be recognized at the first annual Detroit Energy Challenge Award Ceremony in 2021. Visit to find out more information including how a building can apply.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service is seeking applications for its Rural Energy for America Program, which makes loan guarantees and grants available for renewable energy systems, energy efficiency, energy audits and more. The deadlines to apply for renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement grants are Oct. 31, 2019, and March 31, 2020, while applications for loan guarantees are accepted year-round. Find out more here.

The Michigan Energy Office’s Small Manufacturers Energy Waste Reduction Incentive Pilot is offering rebates of up to $15,000 per company for small manufacturers that can implement energy efficiency activities between Oct. 1, 2019 and July 31, 2020. There is a 100% minimum match requirement. Click here to learn more about eligibility and apply.