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Michigan EIBC & AEE Help Improve Options for Purchasing Renewable Energy
Laura Sherman of Michigan EIBC and Caitlin Marquis of AEE published a piece this week on corporate purchasing of renewable energy in Michigan. What follows is an excerpt. Read the entire blog here.
Back in December 2016, an omnibus energy bill signed into law in Michigan contained a small section requiring utilities to develop “voluntary green pricing” programs. Today, nearly two years later, the ensuing regulatory process is producing results that will open new renewable energy options for residential as well as commercial and industrial (C&I) customers. The Michigan Public Service Commission recently issued orders requiring improvements to Consumers Energy’s “Large Customer Renewable Energy Program” (LC-REP) and Solar Gardens program, and to DTE’s MIGreenPower program, while also requiring DTE to introduce a new program focused on C&I customers.
AEE and the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council (Michigan EIBC), AEE’s partner in the state, jointly provided comments and reply comments toward the state’s development of utility voluntary green power pricing programs, focusing in particular on the needs of C&I customers, as well as a quantification of potential C&I customer demand. In July 2017, the Commission issued guidelines for utility applications, which responded to many of the recommendations from stakeholders, including an emphasis on the importance of providing a “menu of options” to meet the needs of different customers.
In October 2017, Michigan utilities filed applications to comply with Section 61, with the state’s major utilities proposing to maintain the status quo. Specifically, DTE proposed to keep its existing MIGreenPower program as it is, and Consumers made the case that its SolarGardens and LC-REP programs met the requirements of the statute as they were.While approving applications from the smaller Michigan utilities, the Commission turned DTE’s and Consumer’s filings into contested cases. AEE and Michigan EIBC, along with the nonprofit Institute for Energy Innovation, intervened in both to make the case for improvements to meet the needs of more customers.
In October 2018, the Commission gave Consumers’ application conditional approval, while DTE’s application was rejected, noting several requirements that would be needed for DTE’s programs to pass muster.
In response to the Commission’s order, DTE has filed its proposed new “Large Customer Voluntary Green Pricing Program” and it’s a huge improvement over MIGreenPower—and much better suited to the needs of C&I customers. Consumers has also made an initial filing for expansion of its Solar Gardens and LC-REP programs.
In the months ahead, we’ll participating in the stakeholder process to explore barriers to third-party community renewable energy projects. And we’ll be following closely as DTE’s new C&I program and Consumers’ program expansion work their way through the regulatory process. It may be a long and winding road, but Michigan is on its way to making renewable energy available to more corporate customers than ever before.
Project Profile: The Delta Solar Project
The Delta Solar Project, a 24 megawatt system, was one of the first major utility-scale solar projects announced in Michigan when the Lansing Board of Water & Light initiated the project in 2014. The project was developed, designed, and constructed by EDF Renewables, a Michigan EIBC member, and is currently generating electricity for the Lansing Board of Water & Light (MI), a municipal utility serving the greater Capital Region. The project is owned by CMS Energy, and was constructed utilizing Michigan based subcontractors.
The project, which powers the equivalent of 3,300 homes, was ultimately completed in 2018 after years of development and site work. A groundbreaking project, the Delta Solar Project is the largest single-axis tracker system solar project in Michigan and is the second largest project in the state. It is also the largest solar project developed and financed under a Power Purchase Agreement. While the project was a “first” in many respects, we expect it to serve as a model for future solar development in the state.
“This project reinforces BWL’s commitment to providing our customers with 30 percent clean energy by 2020 and 40 percent by 2030,” said BWL General Manager Dick Peffley. “We know this is what our customers want and we’re committed to giving them a clean energy future.”
The Delta Solar Project is one of many great projects that the advanced energy industry produced in 2018. We’re looking forward to seeing what’s next in 2019.
Join Us for EV Convening on Dec. 19
Over the course of 2018, Michigan EIBC has convened industry stakeholders, public officials, and nonprofit partners to learn and share best practices to electrify Michigan’s transportation sector. The transition to automated, connected, and shared vehicles — one that is increasingly talked about across the globe — will be done on an electrified platform. Michigan has the opportunity to lead this transition, but such a change is not without challenges.
On December 19, Michigan EIBC and the Institute for Energy Innovation will host an event to explore where to locate EV charging infrastructure, challenges to EV adoption in multi-unit dwellings, and progress toward electrifying Michigan’s school buses. Beyond these specific topics, we’ll also discuss current gaps that are limiting the deployment of electric vehicles in Michigan and potential solutions for 2019.
We hope to see you there on December 19th from 12pm – 3pm at the Michigan Public Service Commission (7109 West Saginaw Highway, Lansing, MI). RSVP here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/december-electric-vehicle-convening-at-mpsc-tickets-51967664684
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Michigan Energy Stories
- Midwest Solar Solutions, a Michigan EIBC member company, is concerned about the jobs impact of DTE Energy’s proposed replacement program for net metering.
- Michigan EIBC member Tradewind Energy has leased 1200 acres where the company has proposed to install 80,000 solar panels to produce 20 megawatts of energy in the Upper Peninsula.
- At a recent business forum in grand Rapids, Consumers Energy CEO Patti Poppe gave a speech about why the company is aggressively transitioning to solar and other renewable sources, investing in EV infrastructure, and moving away from burning coal.
- Bills likely to pass the Michigan legislature this year seek to clarify tax exemptionsfor small-scale solar installations.
- The Branch County Planning Commission Wednesday met for the first time since March 2017, after a local citizens group asked the Branch County Board of Commissioners last month to pursue a county wide ordinance that would cover industrial wind turbines.
- The Presque Isle County Board of Commissioners will consider a petition to force a wind turbine ordinance to a public vote after residents collected enough signatures.
- A survey of Village of Baraga residents and business owners meant to gauge the community’s interest in developing a community solar project found that most people would like to see it move forward.
- Michigan utilities are ramping up spending on replacing aging gas infrastructure that will cost billions in the coming years. In Michigan’s two largest cities, 35 miles of natural gas distribution lines were installed before Theodore Roosevelt was president.
National Energy Stories
- On Wednesday, the Farm Bill passed in the US Congress. The bill maintains the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) at $50 million per year of mandatory funding.
- The Minneapolis transit agency plans to introduce 125 electric buses onto the city’s streets by 2022.
- Clean energy is growing in the Midwest, according to an article this week in Forbes. Quoting NRDC analyst Arjun Krishnaswami: “All in all, rural renewable energy projects are laying the foundation for a clean energy economy that meets the needs of local communities and provides clean and affordable energy throughout the (midwestern) region.”
- U.S. energy storage is poised for rapid growth and will be a $4.5 billion market in 2023, according to a new analysis from Wood Mackenzie. The firm says the value of the storage market will double from 2018 to 2019, and then again into 2020.
- On Tuesday, JP Morgan announced that it has entered a $200M joint venture to fund a solar+storage developer.
- This week, BMW announced an investment of over $225 million to bring the new i4 electric vehicle to production.
- Two U.S. senators from Ohio on Tuesday asked General Motors chief executive Mary Barra to commit to building all future electric vehicles for U.S. buyers in the U.S.
- General Motors is fighting to retain tax credits for electric vehicles. Preserving the $7,500 tax incentive for buyers is said to be crucial for GM as the company pivots from internal combustion engines in favor of building cars powered by batteries or hydrogen fuel cells.
- Solar generation is up by over 28% in the first three quarters of 2018 with a 30.3% increase in utility-scale solar and a 23.6% increase in small-scale solar.
- The Energy Storage Association (ESA) and allied industries are urging Congress to clarify that the investment tax credit (ITC) includes energy storage as an eligible technology.
- The rural Midwest benefits more from clean energy sector jobs in wind, solar and energy efficiency than fossil fuels, a new report says.
- Cincinnati’s city council approves a resolution aiming to power city operations on 100 percent renewable energy by 2035.
- New and recently re-elected Democratic governors plan a series of aggressive steps to address climate change and bolster renewables.
Michigan Energy Events
You’re invited to attend our final 2018 electric vehicle convening on December 19th from 12pm – 3pm at the Michigan Public Service Commission (7109 West Saginaw Highway, Lansing, MI). RSVP here.
Attend Automobli-D January 14-17, an event showcasing suppliers driving mobility technology, V2I connectivity, urban mobility, smart cities, building a mobility workforce, ride sharing, cybersecurity and autonomous technologies.
The North American International Auto Show is Jan. 14-27 in Detroit.
You are cordially invited to participate in the first meeting of the Third-Party Community Energy Projects Workgroup. The meeting will be held on Thursday, January 24, 2019 at 10 o’clock in the Lake Michigan Hearing Room of the Commission Office at 7109 West Saginaw Highway in Lansing. The meeting content will also be available remotely. A website with information regarding this workgroup (including agendas and contacts) may be found at https://www.michigan.gov/mpsc/0,4639,7-159-16393-484912–,00.html.
National Energy Events
Attend the Smart Cities International Symposium & Exhibition Jan. 22-24 in Chicago.
The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) Winter Policy Summit is February 10-13, 2019 in Washingtion DC. Click here for more information.
Announcements and Opportunities
Wolverine Power Cooperative seeks a Director of Portfolio Modeling to enhance Wolverine’s utilization of advanced analytics and data science. Learn more: bit.ly/2BRTSnP
The new gubernatorial administration is seeking applicants for the transition team and for appointments. Please visit michigantransition.org to apply.