PURPA Revisions, the Utility of the Future, Energy Storage 101 Event 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:

Michigan EIBC Monitoring Proposed PURPA Changes

 The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently proposed significant changes to the way the agency implements the Public Utilities Regulatory Policy Act (PURPA). If implemented, these revisions to the execution of one of the most important pieces of federal energy legislation would create concerns for independent developers of renewable energy projects. Michigan EIBC is closely monitoring this ongoing issue to keep its members aware of the potential impacts.

According to FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee, the agency is planning to “modernize” its approach to PURPA to reflect changes since the Act was passed in 1978, such as advancements in renewable energy and the growth of competitive wholesale power markets.

FERC Commissioner Richard Glick, however, in his dissent from FERC’s formal notice of  proposed rulemaking, wrote that the proposed changes to FERC’s approach to PURPA do not expand “genuine competition.” Rather, they are “simply rebalancing the scales against” the energy projects, including wind, solar and biomass, that qualify for contracts under PURPA (known as qualifying facilities, or QFs), according to Glick.

One of Glick’s issues is that the proposal would eliminate the requirement that utilities must offer QFs contracts in which the rate is fixed or known for the duration of a contract term. That move could “make it more difficult—or in some cases impossible—for QFs to obtain financing,” Glick wrote.

The changes being considered include a proposal to reduce the threshold at which a project is assumed to be exempt from PURPA contracts. Currently FERC has a starting presumption that any project above 20 MW in a competitive wholesale market (like the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, which covers most of Michigan) has non-discriminatory access to those markets and thus does not need to be a QF under PURPA. The proposed rulemaking would reduce that threshold to 1 MW. “This proposal would, in essence, relieve most utilities within [regional transmission organizations] and [independent system operators] from the must-purchase obligation for any resource greater than 1 MW,” Glick wrote.

Public comments on the notice of the proposed rulemaking are due Dec. 3. Go here to submit a comment.   

Laura Sherman Speaks on the Utility of the Future at ABATE Conference

 On a panel at the Annual Conference of the Association of Businesses Advocating Tariff Equity on Oct. 10, Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman spoke on the “Utility of the Future” and the ongoing transformation of the energy industry in Michigan. Other panelists were Bill Zarakas of The Brattle Group, Brian Rich of Consumers Energy and Camilo Serna of DTE Energy.

As Dr. Sherman discussed, new opportunities to diversify business models, electrify new sectors, and achieve cost savings are important in an era when electricity loads are flat or declining but embedded and infrastructure costs are high. Electrifying the transportation sector is one way to expand load and make beneficial use of electricity produced by renewable sources. Michigan, with 76% of U.S. automotive R&D, has a unique opportunity to help drive the mobility future.

Electrification not only creates new revenue opportunities for the utility, but also for other advanced energy business sectors. Using energy management tools to make EV charging “smart” can significantly reduce the imbalance between peak energy demand and the output of renewable energy installations, as Sherman’s presentation examined. 

Energy Storage 101 Lunch & Learn Coming Up On Oct. 22

 Energy storage is one of the most promising and fastest-growing sectors in the advanced energy industry. But Michigan has not yet deployed storage to the same extent as other states, in great part due to the policy and regulatory environment.

On Oct. 22, the Institute for Energy Innovation will provide a comprehensive overview of energy storage in Michigan at the Energy Storage 101 Lunch & Learn session at the House Office Building in Lansing. Panelists will include Daren Griffith from Michigan EIBC member POWERHOME Solar and Katherine Peretick from Michigan EIBC member NRStor. 

POWERHOME Solar has increasingly seen consumer interest in battery storage systems to run alongside the solar panel arrays the company installs. NRStor recently partnered with Michigan EIBC member Honeywell to develop behind-the-meter battery storage systems for C&I customers that would be remotely operated.

This event is for Michigan EIBC members, Michigan legislators and legislative staff only. RSVP here.  


Michigan Energy Innovators Gala – Sponsorships Are Now Sold Out!

The 7th Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala on Thursday, Nov 14, at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing, featuring Governor Gretchen Whitmer as the keynote speaker, will celebrate individuals and businesses who have worked to grow Michigan’s advanced energy sector in 2019. That includes recognizing winners in the categories of:

Business of the Year
Emerging Business of the Year
Project of the Year
Public Official of the Year

Advanced energy business leaders, legislators, Michigan Public Service Commission staff, state government officials, and other key decision-makers will be in attendance, and 90 minutes has been set aside for networking before the program begins.

We have a handful of individual tickets left. If you want to attend, please purchase a ticket today via this link.


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Renewing Members

ArborWind, LLC
ArborWind’s mission is to power the world with clean, economical energy. Using patented Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAWT) technology, ArborWind is bringing a world-changing renewable energy source that is clean, safe, economical and most importantly, durable. The ArborWind PT180 has proven reliability that is unmatched in its class. With a small footprint, quick installation and low maintenance, the PT Series Turbines (PT100, PT150, PT180, PT300) provide a renewable solution for a variety of applications including agriculture, industrial and commercial, housing projects as well as most urban and rural community settings. Learn more about ArborWind and Vertical Axis Wind Turbines at www.arborwind.com


Founded in 2002 as 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, NextEnergy works with innovators to accelerate smarter, cleaner, more accessible solutions for communities and cities. Since its inception, NextEnergy has worked with more than 400 companies, universities, federal agencies, and philanthropic organizations to drive more than $1.5 billion in advanced energy and mobility technology investments.
Based in the center of Detroit’s growing innovation district with access to a microgrid, smart home, electric vehicle charging infrastructure and an alternative fuels platform, we demonstrate and pilot technologies in real-world environments to gather data and diverse user-experiences. This process helps us to quickly scale and deploy solutions by accelerating commercialization with a specific focus on smart mobility and smart grid. Our depth of experience, technical knowledge and established network of partners have enabled us to develop effective programs and pilots and facilitate new relationships to help our clients achieve their commercialization goals.
Contact us today to learn how you can start transforming your ideas and technology into smarter, cleaner more accessible solutions to create a better quality of life for all. To learn more visit nextenergy.org or call 313.833.0100.


NTH Consultants, Ltd.
NTH Consultants, Ltd. (NTH) has been providing professional engineering consulting services to the energy, urban renewal, water resources and infrastructure markets since 1968. From a small, Detroit-based, geotechnical engineering firm, our company has grown significantly providing a wide range of services in geotechnical engineering, environmental engineering, and facilities engineering.


Oak Electric
When it comes to emergency power solutions, Oak Electric specializes in the sales, installation and service of a wide selection of automatic standby and backup generators. Oak Electric is a Top Premier Generac Generator Dealer in Southeast Michigan and in the country and has completed more than 20,000 residential and commercial generator installations.
In addition, Oak Electric has been at the forefront of bringing renewable energy solutions to Michigan residents and businesses, providing sales, service and installation of solar panels, battery backup systems and wind power to a growing number of customers who want to experience the efficiency and environmental benefits of “green” energy.
Oak Electric knows how busy life can get and also knows that helping clients achieve a truly functional and comfortable environment goes beyond servicing their electrical system. Oak Electric’s full range of services enables Oak to simplify and expand the customer experience to provide everything necessary to keep the power on, the temperatures comfortable, the air clean and the water flowing, whether at home or in the office. Electrical, generators, solar, heating, cooling, plumbing…One call covers it all!
Locally owned and operated, Oak Electric started out as a family-minded business, a philosophy Oak continues to embrace. Gary Pipia, President and Owner, states “Whether it relates to our clients or our amazing staff, we are proud of the fact that many of our employees have been with us an average of 10 years or more, which reflects the value we place on the people who work for us and the integral part they play in our success.” 


Michigan Energy News

  • Wind turbines have become an integral part of the Michigan rural landscape, according to a new article.
  • Ford says that acceleration and torque will be selling points for its next generation of EVs.
  • Blackrocks Brewery in Marquette, Mich., was able to add a 20-panel rooftop solar array at its production facility with the help of an award from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy that Blackrocks matched. Michigan EIBC member Michigan Energy Options conducted an energy assessment for Blackrocks and installed waste reduction measures like LED lighting.
  • The planning commission for the city of Coldwater in Branch County is discussing a solar facility ordinance.
  • The city of Holland gives special recognition to energy efficiency and its place in a long-term clean energy plan.
  • A pizzeria near Grand Rapids got hit with a nearly $20,000 electric bill after its meter was not properly recording usage for a year.
  • The Michigan Public Service Commission approves Consumers Energy’s purchase of a 166-MW wind farm in Hillsdale County at a 31-year levelized cost of energy of about $48 per MWh.

National Energy News

  • Target and Wal-Mart are two of the companies doing the most to embrace solar power
  • The Trump administration eliminates an exemption from tariffs for “bifacial” solar panels.
  • Wisconsin officials are trying to determine the right policy approach toward EVs.
  • Opponents of Ohio’s HB6 legislation are still gathering signatures for a petition that would place a referendum over the law on the state ballot.
  • The Orlando Utility Commission is making a major play in the use of a hydrogen system to back up two new 74.5-MW solar projects.
  • EV charging infrastructure needs to take into account the potentially huge market of urban residents who do not use private parking spots, according to an article from a Navigant consultant.

Michigan Energy Events

Learn more about carbon capture technology from University of Michigan Global CO2 Initiative Director Volker Sick in an event in Grand Rapids on Oct. 17Register here.

Carla Walker-Miller, president and CEO of Michigan EIBC member Walker-Miller Energy Services, will be the keynote speaker at the 4th annual meeting of Advancing Women in Energy, to be held in Detroit on Oct. 17Register now.

The University of Michigan Energy Institute’s 2019 Conference on Transportation, Economics, Energy and the Environment will be held on Oct. 18 and is now open for registration.

Michigan Interfaith Power & Light’s 2019 Sustainability Conference features several environmental topics. It is being held Nov. 8 at Marygrove College in Detroit. Registration is open now.  

National Energy Events

Register here for Advanced Energy Now | West, Advanced Energy Economy’s regional energy policy conference, to be held Oct. 16 to 17 in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Greentech Media’s Power & Renewables Summit is in Austin, Tex., on Oct. 29 to 30. Topics include clean energy mandates, post-subsidy scenarios, East Coast offshore wind, distributed energy resource participation in wholesale markets and more. Go here to register.

Energy Storage North America’s 2019 Conference & Expo is in San Diego from Nov. 5 to 7.

The U.S. Commercial Service has organized the Clean Energy and Zero Emission Vehicle Technologies Trade Mission to Mexico from Nov. 18 to 23. This one-week trip for U.S. companies involves one-on-one meetings, conferences, roundtables, a networking reception and OEM and tier 1 plant visits with the automotive and clean energy industry in Mexico. Contact U.S. Commercial Service Mexico Energy Industry Specialist Claudia Salgado at claudia.salgado@trade.gov. The U.S. Commercial Service is also offering free consultancies for Michigan EIBC members interested in these business sectors in Mexico.
Infocast’s Wind Power Finance & Investment Summit is in San Diego from Feb. 4 to Feb. 6, 2020.


Bentley Community Schools in Genesee County is requesting proposals for an energy service company to design, manage and implement a comprehensive turn-key energy saving capital improvements program. Bidding closes Oct. 21, 2019.

Orion Township in Oakland County has issued an RFP for a design build project to provide a 15.5-kW solar power system by Dec. 31, 2019. Potential bidders can view this RFP here.

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.