- Newsletter (315)
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 Directive Sets the Stage For Huge State Government Investment Into Electric Vehicles
Michigan EIBC strongly supports Gov. Whitmer’s Executive Directive this week that will set a plan for state agencies to coordinate the millions of dollars of investment into EV charging infrastructure that the state will soon receive. “Michigan businesses are ready to use the bipartisan federal funding to create jobs and advance Michigan’s mobility future,” Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman said in a statement included in a press release from the Governor’s Office. “Today’s Executive Directive is an important first step toward deploying federal funding quickly and effectively, which will create jobs, support small businesses, and improve connectivity.”
The Directive contains a number of steps that will “create good-paying jobs for Michigan workers while saving time and money for Michigan drivers,” as Gov. Whitmer wrote. These steps include:
- state agencies should optimize the location of charging stations and work with universities and community stakeholders, building off the state’s previously developed EV charger placement optimization plan.
- various agencies will work with the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification “to develop an EV-Ready Community Playbook illustrating funding opportunities, model laws, and partnership opportunities for local communities.”
- infrastructure asset managers should coordinate on project plans and timing so that communities can upgrade other infrastructure at the same time they add new EV infrastructure.
Michigan will be receiving $110 million in EV-related funding, MiBiz reported, and the state is eligible to compete for additional grant opportunities.
Convening Examines Diversity and Skills Mismatch in the Advanced Energy Workforce
After the success of our ongoing EV and Storage Convenings, on Dec. 9, Michigan EIBC and the Institute for Energy Innovation held its first Advanced Energy Workforce Convening to get a discussion going on how the industry can improve its ability to attract and retain talent, including from diverse communities that are underrepresented in the industry.
After opening remarks from Marcia Black-Watson, industry engagement division administrator at the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, much of this discussion centered around the challenges of finding and retaining talent with the right fit of skills. In its energy efficiency work, Michigan EIBC member Walker-Miller Energy Services has a problem of more work to do than it can find contractors to take on. “The scale of the training that needs to be done is very different from what’s in the ecosystem right now,” Walker-Miller CEO Carla Walker-Miller said in the panel discussion.
This problem cannot be separated from issues around equity and increasing diversity in the industry. Walker-Miller has made concerted efforts to expand work opportunities in black and brown communities. “Everyone needs to feel like they have a place and a space in this industry, because that is what it is going to take to actually solve the labor shortage,” she said. An example of how Walker-Miller has tried to bring in talent that is overlooked elsewhere is with potential employees who have felonies on their record. Most employers will automatically screen out anyone with a felony conviction, but Walker-Miller does not ask about criminal history in the first interview with a potential employee. “Not all felonies are created equal,” Walker-Miller said, noting that some people can become felons because they did not have enough money to pay for traffic tickets.
“We are eliminating a very large part of the population” from the workforce if we do not consider people with a history of involvement in the criminal justice system, she said.
The advanced energy industry is also heavily skewed towards men. Within the Michigan Department of Labor’s definition of the cluster of energy companies in the state, 80% of the workforce is male, compared to 53% for jobs across the whole state, Black-Watson said. Michigan EIBC member Barton Malow has worked hard to hire more women, the company’s Senior Community Engagement Specialist Katie Gandy said in the panel discussion.
Barton Malow’s efforts include a six-week “Barton Malow Boot Camp” which gives real work opportunities to young people who are not sure about the industry yet.
“A systematic approach to inclusion” is needed, Kwafo Adarkwa, director of public affairs at Michigan EIBC member ITC Holdings Corp., said. “We have to bring everyone to the table. All the research shows that having that sort of workforce is good for the bottom line,” in addition to being good for society, he said.
Legislature Advancing Economic Incentive Package
The Michigan legislature is considering several bills that amount to an attempt to incentivize more businesses, including those in advanced energy, to stay in or relocate to Michigan. The Dec. 10 news that Michigan EIBC member GM is spending $3 billion to build EVs and EV components in Michigan provides an example of the kind of investments these bills hope to incentivize.
The legislative package includes bills that would create a new Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve fund within the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity and assist local governments with tax incentive and loan programs to attract employers.
“These economic investments would support Michigan as it builds upon its successful advanced mobility and supply chain industries,” Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman was quoted as saying in Gongwer’s coverage of the news. “The bills would prevent our state from missing out on another golden opportunity for development and would spur growth in advanced energy jobs for hard-working Michiganders.”
The proposals include specific conditions that any entity that receives support from the Michigan Strategic Fund would need to abide by, or pay money back. Bridge Magazine reported that supporters of the bills believe these provisions will offer unique protections to taxpayers so their dollars go toward job creation.
Now Hiring: Director of Legislative Affairs
The Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council (Michigan EIBC) and Institute for Energy Innovation (IEI) are hiring a full-time Director of Legislative Affairs to coordinate our work at the Michigan legislature and support other policy efforts. Applications are due Friday, Dec. 17.
The chosen candidate’s policy portfolio will include:
- Legislative advocacy including meetings with legislators and testimony in front of committees
- Analyzing the impact of legislation on the advanced energy industry
- Support of the development of legislative priorities and key legislation
- Support of advanced energy sector-specific initiatives, including research and report writing
- Communication and collaboration with members of the advanced energy industry
Desired qualifications include:
- Experience working on issues related to energy policy and legislative affairs (preferred candidates will have at least 3 years of relevant experience)
- Experience writing and analyzing legislation
- Ability to work and communicate in a bipartisan manner
- Strong network in Lansing, including among legislators and legislative staff
- Specific policy expertise in advanced energy including mobility/transportation electrification
- Experience communicating with business leaders and balancing the interests of multiple parties
- Ability to balance multiple tasks at once
- Ability to operate independently in a virtual work environment
- Willingness to step-in to help with any task to support a small team
- Strong written and verbal communication skills
- Strong networking and public speaking experience
FLO is a leading North American charging network for electric vehicles (EV) and a major provider of smart charging software and equipment. FLO offers public, commercial, and residential chargers, including Level 2 EV supply equipment and DC fast chargers. In North America, FLO has deployed over 50,000 charging stations and manages hundreds of thousands of unique charging experiences that transfer 5.5 GWH of energy monthly.
Michigan Energy News
- Demand for backup generators has soared across southeast Michigan and beyond in response to power outages.
- A number of startups across the greater Detroit area are trying to devise approaches so those without access to private vehicles are not left behind by the mobility transition.
- A week after the lawsuit against the Line 5 pipeline in federal court was withdrawn, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says she remains committed to shutting down the pipeline.
- Solar-powered electric heat pumps can be cheaper than fossil fuel-burning heating sources in very cold, rural markets like the Upper Peninsula, according to new studies from a team that includes researchers from Michigan Technological University.
- A Community Climate Action Millage that would fund the A2Zero initiative will be taken up by Ann Arbor voters on the November 2022 ballot.
- The MI Future MI Power Campaign calls on Consumers Energy to embrace more renewable energy in its integrated resource plan.
National Energy News
- The Biden administration’s executive order to make the federal government carbon-free, including banning fossil-fueled light duty vehicles by 2027, will send powerful market signals that will lead to more EV use and clean energy, some experts say.
- More than 50 power companies have announced the National Electric Highway Coalition, which is planning a coast-to-coast EV charging network that would fill in charging gaps along the Interstate Highway System.
- A proposed $3 billion interstate transmission line from Wyoming to Nevada could bring electricity from a proposed 3,000-MW wind farm to California markets.
- Three California community choice aggregators issue $2 billion in bonds to purchase 450 MW of renewable energy upfront.
- Italian startup Energy Dome is demonstrating its long duration storage technology, in which CO2 is pressurized inside a large, inflatable membrane, and claiming it has 75% round-trip efficiency, which would put it in the same ballpark as lithium-ion batteries.
- A net-zero commitment by the Nebraska Public Power District means that all major utilities in Nebraska now have firm plans to move to zero-carbon electricity.
Attention Michigan EIBC members: if you have a job announcement you would like in the newsletter, please send a paragraph describing the position and a link to apply to Matt Bandyk at email@example.com. Please include in the email a specific end date for the job posting.
“As a senior retro-commissioning engineer with Energy Sciences, you will join our team of degreed and licensed engineers, scientists, and energy efficiency professionals to meet the energy use challenges of commercial and industrial facilities. We’re looking for experienced and talented technical team members to assist our clients, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, in making their building systems work, identifying energy-savings opportunities, reducing waste, and saving operating cost. You will play a key role in a growing company that is dedicated to driving our vision of a sustainable and socially responsible energy future, working in an exciting, collaborative environment.”
Foresight is hiring for these and other positions. Visit the Careers page here.
“Support NextEnergy’s Mobility practice through the execution of programs designed to accelerate smart, clean, accessible solutions for communities and cities under the leadership of the Director, Technology Development. You’ll work with technology companies, business stakeholders, public agencies, and NextEnergy partners to launch and manage demonstrations of technologies that help demonstrate and commercialize next-generation mobility technologies and business models.”
NOVI Energy is growing, and they need your help. This month, they announced a joint venture with Osaka Gas USA to develop over 1000 MW of solar power generation facilities, enough solar and storage to power more than 150,000 homes with clean, affordable energy while creating good-paying jobs. This is one of several exciting projects NOVI Energy is developing! Learn more about their company and available Project Engineer positions. See open positions here.
SunPower is seeking a Senior Associate, Market Development and Policy, to advocate on SunPower’s behalf on state policy with various public service commissions, state legislatures, and state agencies to drive residential, commercial and community solar and energy storage adoption in the Midwest U.S., particularly in Illinois and Michigan. The successful candidate must be a self-starter, comfortable working remotely, and have experience navigating various regulatory dockets, reviewing public comments, and summarizing state legislation. Frequent travel within the Midwest region may be required at times. Location is flexible, although presence in Illinois is preferred.
Michigan and National Energy Events
Gov. Whitmer created the Council on Climate Solutions as an advisory body to help formulate and implement the MI Healthy Climate Plan. The council is holding a series of meetings throughout the year on various topics related to cutting Michigan’s CO2 emissions and recommending solutions for communities disproportionately affected by climate change. Go to the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy Office of Climate and Energy website to learn how to join these meetings.
The U.S. Department of Energy has an opportunity for $105 million in funding for small businesses that are working to deploy clean energy technologies. “This funding opportunity is open to small businesses that have previously received SBIR or STTR grants to provide additional opportunities to compete for funding to develop working prototypes of their discoveries,” according to the DOE.
The Lansing Board of Water and Light has put out a Request for Information for Energy Storage. Responses are due Nov. 30. More information here.
Michigan EIBC member Centrepolis Accelerator at Lawrence Technological University is now accepting applications for its C3 Accelerator. Apply here by Jan. 10, 2022. C3 is a growth stage Accelerator with up to $1.6M in funding in the form of grants, investments, and services to support the product development and scaling of Cleantech, Climatech, and Circular Economy technologies.
The Community Collaboration on Climate Change (C4) is seeking a full-time contract position to provide coordination of C4 leadership, organizational representatives, Grand Rapids residents, and the program deliverables.
State of Michigan DNR is going big in solar with projects in the ground, others in development and additional ones being planned. DNR has released a Request for Proposal for Prequalification Program for Renewable Energy PPAs: www.michigan.gov/sigmavss. Use “Guess Access” to get the RFP. A previous round of pre-qualifications netted solar companies that then were able to bid on a portfolio of DNR solar projects in Southwest Michigan. Another portfolio in the Northern Region is in the works for later this year. Only companies who pre-qualify can bid on future DNR solar projects. Please direct all correspondence to the Solicitation Manager, Laura Gyorkos at gyorkosL@michigan.gov.
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.
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.