Read Laura Sherman Op-ed in the Detroit News, More on the Rooftop Solar Cap and Other Advanced Energy News

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:

Read Dr. Laura Sherman in the Detroit News

 We need more competition in energy to face challenges ahead, yet competition in Michigan is restricted by existing policies. Many Michigan residents may be unaware of the value of different ownership models when it comes to energy, so Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman has written an opinion piece that appeared in this Wednesday’s Detroit News that explains how power needs to come from a variety of sources, and not just the utilities.

Michigan will need more independent projects to keep energy clean, affordable and reliable, especially in the face of increasingly severe weather events and soaring electricity demand as more and more electric vehicles need charging,” Sherman writes. “But as large, publicly traded, investor-owned companies, DTE and Consumers Energy are fiercely defensive of their guaranteed profits, so they try to portray on-site renewables and competition as a bad thing,”  
For example, a recent letter to the Detroit News from representatives of both utilities warned that “for-profit, private” energy developers will raise the cost of energy and “disrupt” the market.

Sherman, however, explains how this narrative is contrary to what we have actually seen in Michigan’s energy market. From removing the cap on distributed energy to creating a legal framework for community solar, Michigan needs policies that enable competition and the most cost-effective solutions.

“Generally, competition between private companies drives innovation forward and pushes costs down, not up. The overwhelming evidence shows that electric power is no exception to this rule: projects built and installed by non-utilities are cheaper for customers and ratepayers,” Sherman writes. 

Rooftop Solar Cap: Kicking The Can Down The Road Is Not Acceptable

 Speaking of the cap on distributed energy, Michigan EIBC and other organizations are continuing to press House Energy Committee Chairman Joe Bellino to take substantive action to remove barriers on the growth of rooftop solar and resolve this issue blocking renewable energy now.

Bellino has said he wants to see change happen with the cap, but has floated an idea to marginally increase the utilities’ caps: DTE Energy’s from 1% to 3%, Consumers Energy’s from 2% to 6%  and UPPCO’s from 3% to 9%.

As Gongwer reported this week, the Michigan League of Conservation Voters (MLCV),  Michigan EIBC and the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum maintain support for HB 4236, the bill from Rep. Greg Markkanen that would remove the cap. Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman noted that “if the utilities wish to keep the cap, then those in the solar industry would be willing to compromise on something such as a tiered approach to raising the threshold.”

“Solar installers in Michigan see the arbitrary and one-of-a-kind solar cap as an existential threat to their businesses, their employees and their customers,” Sherman was quoted as saying to Gongwer. “The U.P. has already reached the cap twice and Consumers’ territory reached the cap last year.”

“(Utilities) like the cap because it gives them control,” MLCV spokesman Nick Dodge told Gongwer.. “Any time they’re not generating their own electricity, that’s kind of their business model … and so any opportunities where people are able to get control over a little bit of their energy costs, they’re opposed.”  

Read Nathan Vogel of Inovateus Solar in Lansing State Journal

Michigan EIBC member Inovateus Solar was behind one of the biggest distributed energy projects in the state: the Spartan Solar carport array at Michigan State University. Now, The Build Back Better Act, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives but not yet passed by the Senate, can incentivize more projects like Spartan Solar, Inovateus Solar Senior Vice President Nathan Vogel writes in a new piece for the Lansing State Journal.

“The Build Back Better Act will extend tax credits for solar, wind and electric vehicles and level the playing field for clean energy to provide access to more projects such as Spartan Solar I,” Vogel said.

Read the whole piece here.

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 today, Friday, Dec. 17 before 5:00 pm!

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

Find out more about this job and how to apply here.


Renewing Members

Kent County Department of Public Works

The Department of Public Works (DPW) provides solid waste management services and education programs to Kent and surrounding counties. The Department is committed to a fully integrated solid waste management system and has four facilities in its fleet including the Recycling and Education Center processing residential recyclables, Waste-to-Energy facility, landfill and transfer station.  Kent County and its partners provide over 21 MW of renewable electrical generation and continue to explore new renewable sources including solar and biogas as it implements sustainable material management strategies to reduce landfill of municipal solid waste by 90% by 2030.

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

  • The Citizens Utility Board of Michigan releases its annual utility performance scorecard, which gives poor marks to Michigan utilities on reliability of service and high costs of energy.
  • The state legislature and Gov. Whitmer finalize a $1 billion economic development incentive package, including the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve (SOAR) fund.
  • High winds leave over 100,000 DTE and Consumers Energy customers without power, just days after power lines were restored after last weekend’s high winds.
  • An mLive report tells the stories of real Michigan residents affected by power outages this year.
  • DTE Gas’s latest rate case increased rates by 57% less than the utility had requested following arguments made by Attorney General Dana Nessel.
  • Consumers Energy will own a $17 million biodigester at a Kent County dairy farm that will convert cow manure into renewable natural gas.

National Energy News

  • Solar advocates are shocked by California regulators’ proposal to impose high fixed costs on rooftop solar.
  • The Biden administration releases an EV Charging Action Plan that shows how the federal government will administer $7.5 billion for a national EV charging network.
  • RMI co-founder Amory Lovins and University of British Columbia professor M.V. Ramana debunk myths about renewable energy and the grid.
  • Small modular nuclear reactor developer NuScale Power announces plans to go public.
  • New York City moves to ban natural gas in new buildings, while also requesting studies of heat pump applications.
  • EV truck maker Rivian is expected to build a $5 billion factory outside Atlanta.


Job Board

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 Please include in the email a specific end date for the job posting.

Energy Sciences

Position: Senior Retro-Commissioning Engineer, Metro Detroit

“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 Management

Positions: Senior Project Manager, Sales Coordinator, Business Development Rep

Foresight is hiring for these and other positions. Visit the Careers page here.


Position: Technical Program Manager, Mobility, Detroit

“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

Position: Project Engineer, Novi, MI

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.   


Position: Senior Associate, Market Development and Policy

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

 On Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Community Solar Partnership (NCSP) will host its second Annual Summit: To 5 Million and Beyond: Community Solar’s Pathway to Success. Register now for the annual summit. 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. Letters of intent for this funding opportunity are due Jan. 3, 2022.

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 Federal Highway Administration is seeking comments on the implementation of its EV Charging Program. Find more information here. Comments are due Jan. 28, 2022.

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: 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
 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 to find out more information including how a building can apply.