- Newsletter (329)
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:
CEO of Michigan EIBC member Lean & Green Michigan Bali Kumar testifying at Sept. 15 House committee hearing
Multiple Bills in Lansing Would Expand PACE Financing and Access to Capital for Energy Projects
The Michigan House of Representatives Energy Committee is considering four bills that would expand access to capital for projects that cut energy use at homes and businesses and create more jobs related to energy efficiency. At a Sept. 15 committee hearing, speakers from a range of expertise, including Bali Kumar, Michigan EIBC board member and CEO of Michigan EIBC member Lean & Green Michigan, explained why reform is needed for the state to get the most out of the practice known as Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE).
Commercial PACE financing, in which the hurdles of high upfront costs are conquered by paying for commercial energy projects like installing high-efficiency equipment or solar panels through an assessment on the property taxes of the underlying building, has seen success in Michigan, as demonstrated by the work of Michigan EIBC members like Petros PACE Finance, Gem Energy, Newman Consulting Group and PlugSmart.
Nevertheless, PACE financing remains “underutilized” in Michigan, Kumar said in his testimony. For example, Lean & Green Michigan, the commercial PACE administrator for the state, has worked on projects totaling $50 million, compared to the $240 million in projects that have been completed in Ohio. That is because the statute setting the types of commercial projects that can use PACE financing is “one of the most restrictive” in the country, he said. One of the bills, HB 6039, would bring environmental hazard, new construction and multifamily projects into Michigan’s commercial PACE statute, bringing Michigan in line with other states, Kumar said.
Another bill, HB 6036, would allow residential households to also participate in PACE. The bill would lead to “unique opportunities for individuals who might otherwise never be able to come up with the funds” to cover the upfront costs of efficiency projects, bill sponsor Rep. Graham Filler (R-DeWitt) said at the hearing. In 2010, PA 270 enabled commercial PACE financing, but it did not address the residential sector. Though they leverage the same special assessment mechanism, residential PACE and commercial PACE serve very different markets and therefore require different considerations.
The remaining two bills, HB 3037 and HB 3038, would allow municipalities to establish low-income financing programs for water quality improvements like septic tank upgrades.
State Senate Passes Resolutions Asking for More Studies on Distributed Generation
On Sept. 15 the Michigan Senate Energy and Technology Committee passed resolutions encouraging the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to conduct studies on distributed generation. Unfortunately, as noted in written testimony filed by Michigan EIBC, the resolutions do not address the uncertainty posed to distributed energy developers and users by caps on the amount of distributed generation in utility service territories. Several senators echoed these concerns and expressed support for a temporary solution that would allow projects to continue moving ahead as these studies are conducted.
Among other steps, the resolutions, SR 142 and SR 143, include a call for the MPSC to undertake a study on rate design for distributed energy resources like rooftop solar.
As Michigan EIBC and member companies have urged the legislature to consider in numerous hearings this year, it is critical for the health of the state’s advanced energy industry that the cap on distributed generation be eliminated or at least increased. During the Sept. 15 hearing, state senators including Mallory McMorrow (D), Tom Barrett (R), Kim LaSata (R) and Sean McCann (D) said that the committee must not wait for the MPSC studies to be completed, and that the committee must act this year, even temporarily, to prevent disruptions to the rooftop solar industry.
Second Energy Storage Convening Announced for October
Michigan EIBC is excited to announce the 2nd virtual Energy Storage Convening on Oct. 5. Following the very informative discussions in our first Energy Storage Convening from July, this event will investigate the topic of behind-the-meter applications of storage.
Speakers will be announced soon, and free registration is now open.
Corporate Purchasing of Advanced Energy Educational Meeting Coming Next Week
The phenomenon of corporations, universities, and municipalities directly procuring renewable energy is developing and becoming more sophisticated, as, for example, large customers try to more precisely match their electricity consumption with purchased renewable energy. Many companies have also been installing on-site renewable energy to power their facilities, such as Michigan-based Whirlpool, which has built wind turbines near its manufacturing plant in Ohio.
On Sept. 23, a panel including Caitlin Marquis of Advanced Energy Economy, Ron Voglewede of Whirlpool, and Drew Horning of the Graham Sustainability Institute at the University of Michigan will explore this topic of Corporate Purchasing of Advanced Energy in a Zoom networking meeting sponsored by Michigan EIBC and the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum. Registration is open here and attendance is free for Michigan EIBC and West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum members.
Congratulations to Energy News Network’s 40 Under 40 Winners
Energy News Network has released its annual list of energy “leaders and innovators from across the U.S.” who are under 40. Several of the winners have ties to Michigan EIBC or to the Michigan energy world more generally:
- Adewale Adesanya – doctoral candidate at Michigan Technological University, member of the current class of Michigan Clean Energy Leaders
- Nakhia Morrissette – Central Region Director and Counsel for the Solar Energy Industries Association, a National Associate Member of Michigan EIBC
- Shimekia Nichols – Deputy Director, Soulardarity
- Katherine Peretick – Director of Engineering at Michigan EIBC member NRStor
- Cherish Smith – Associate Director in Guidehouse’s Energy, Sustainability, and Infrastructure segment based in Ann Arbor
- Joy Wang – Public Utilities Engineer at the MPSC
Congratulations to all of the winners!
Michigan Energy Innovators Gala Will Feature Michigan AG Dana Nessel as Keynote Speaker
Michigan EIBC is excited to announce that its 8th Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala will be taking place on Thursday, November 12 from 4:30 to 6:00 pm EST via Zoom, featuring keynote speaker Dana Nessel, Attorney General for the State of Michigan!
During the gala, we will announce and celebrate this year’s Business of the Year and Project of the Year as voted on by the Michigan EIBC membership.
RSVP Today! Member tickets are only $15.
Sponsorship opportunities are available for this event and can be found on the Michigan EIBC website.
Internship Opportunity with Michigan EIBC and IEI
Michigan EIBC and the Institute for Energy Innovation (IEI) seek a paid intern to support their regulatory engagement work, energy storage research, and (as needed) administrative tasks. The selected candidate will be expected to dedicate approximately 10-15 hours per week to this work starting on or around October 12, 2020. More information can be found here.
To apply, please send a resume, cover letter, and short writing sample to
Michigan EIBC and IEI President Laura Sherman (email@example.com) by close
of business (5pm EDT) on September 18, 2020.
Michigan Energy News
- Consumers Energy has not shown data to justify the utility’s proposed cut to the compensation rate for distributed solar, according to the Environmental Law and Policy Center and other groups.
- A team from Michigan State University publishes research about how floating solar PV could be used as an alternative to expanding dams for more hydropower.
- A historic Detroit pottery studio installs solar panels to help survive in the pandemic.
- Joe Biden stops in Warren to speak before United Auto Workers about the role of electric vehicles in American manufacturing.
- Wind turbine blade shipping has helped the local economy for several Great Lakes communities.
- The Michigan Department of Natural Resources selects Utopian Power LLC to build a solar project at the Oden State Fish Hatchery.
National Energy News
- A new order from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is expected to significantly enhance the role of distributed energy resources in wholesale electricity markets.
- The Midcontinent Independent System Operator and the Southwest Power Pool are launching a new effort to coordinate transmission infrastructure along the “seams” between the two organizations’ territories.
- Construction costs have fallen 50% for solar power projects and 27% for wind power projects from 2013 to 2018, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data.
- Florida regulators are mulling over changes to the state’s net metering program.
- Shelley Francis, co-founder of the nonprofit EVHybridNoire, explains how EVs can be a way to address the inequitable distribution of pollution.
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.
The National Regulatory Research Institute has a three-part webinar series on “The Impact of COVID-19 on Utility Rate Making.”
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
On Sept. 24, the 2030 Districts for Ann Arbor, Detroit and Grand Rapids are holding the next entry in the Healthy Buildings Webinar Series, “Reach Zero Carbon Through Michigan 2030 Districts and DTE Incentives.” Register here.
The Oct. 7 webinar Zero Net Energy Webinar: Leveraging Collaboration for a Winning ZNE or ZNE Ready Project features presenters from Michigan EIBC member Energy Sciences LLC who will talk about lessons learned from Michigan’s first net zero project, IBEW Local 58’s headquarters in Detroit. Register here.
The University of Michigan’s 2020 Conference on Transportation, Economics, Energy and the Environment on Oct. 8 and 9 will explore the integration of electric vehicles with the power grid. Register here for the conference. The University of Michigan Ross School of Business is holding its inaugural Ross Energy WeekNov. 16 to 20, including a Renewable Energy Case Competition an Energy Conference.
National Energy Events
The Clean Grid Alliance invites you to explore the current roadblocks and other challenges facing Corporate and Industrial purchasers, and discuss market innovations needed to unlock the marketplace for this growing renewable energy market segment. The Oct. 9 event features Miranda Ballentine, Founding CEO, Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance, as the keynote speaker. Register today!
The Solar Energy Industries Association’s Solar and Energy Storage Southeast event is scheduled to take place in Atlanta on Nov. 9 to 10.
The Great Plains Institute is holding a webinar series on the Midwestern clean fuels policy. Learn more here.
The Washtenaw Intermediate School District has released an RFP for a solar installation. Bidding closes Oct. 6.
Michigan EGLE’s Energy Storage RFP offers up to $200,000 in matching funding for help creating an Energy Storage Roadmap. Responses are due Sept. 14.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources released new RFPs for utility-scale solar systems at sites in northern Michigan, one in Dickinson County and the other in Crawford County. Find more information here.
The Kent County Department of Public Works is looking for an anchor tenant for its planned Sustainable Business Park. Learn about the RFP here.
The Green Task Force is requesting that non-profit and faith-based organizations fill out a brief survey to assess readiness for solar projects.
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s PlanetM Testing Grant gives mobility companies the opportunity to access testing facilities around the state, including Mcity at the University of Michigan. Apply here.
Ann Arbor Public Schools have an RFP for an electric bus charging station.
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 2030districts.org/Detroit to find out more information including how a building can apply.
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.