- Newsletter (315)
Gov. Whitmer Reopens Construction Projects, Including Renewables
Construction on renewable energy projects like utility-scale solar facilities, residential and commercial rooftop solar arrays, wind power facilities, battery storage installations and energy efficiency contract work such as HVAC upgrades can resume with precautions, including social distancing guidelines, starting on May 7, according to Gov. Whitmer’s executive order announced May 1.
The order includes these projects as part of the broader construction industry, which can restart as part of the first phase of the gradual reopening of the state’s economy under the governor’s MI Safe Start plan. At a press conference where she was joined by Ryan Maibach, president and CEO of Michigan EIBC member Barton Malow, Gov. Whitmer said that construction projects must abide by a set of “best practices” like daily health screening of workers.
“With an eye towards Michigan’s economic recovery, leadership representing the full spectrum of the construction industry have been working diligently and cooperatively to outline processes and practices that will allow us to safely get back to work,” Maibach said.
A risk analysis from University of Michigan occupational experts helped the governor’s economic advisory council determine that the construction industry, due to time workers spend outdoors and the ability to easily use protective equipment, is one of the lowest risk industries for virus transmission.
The governor’s decision is another example of a balanced approach that prioritizes public safety first and foremost, while also taking into account the specific needs of industries, without compromising the top priority of safety. An earlier example is the governor’s order setting standards for electronic notarization, which we talked about in a previous newsletter.
Michigan EIBC Advocating for Clear, Fair Rules for Connecting to the Grid
The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) is currently working on changes to its rules on the procedure for power projects, including distributed generation, to apply to a utility to interconnect to the grid. Michigan EIBC is participating in the MPSC’s process for implementing these changes in order to ensure that there is an easily understandable, transparent and fair set of interconnection rules for wind, utility-scale solar and rooftop solar as well as other distributed energy technologies like storage. In comments submitted today May 1, Michigan EIBC proposed several revisions to the rules, including:
-To help users navigate the new rules, the MPSC should require each utility to have a flow chart available showing all the processes and timelines involved in getting interconnection approval.
-There should be clearly defined and specific procedures around interconnecting energy storage. Storage is one of the fastest-growing types of distributed energy resources in the state. “It is important that these rules spell out how storage will be treated and evaluated during interconnection screens and studies,” the comments said.
-The process for studying large projects should be improved to ensure that there are cost and time savings, both for utilities and for developers.
-It is critical that the utility processes set up by the rules allow ample opportunity for comment and input by stakeholders.
We will keep Michigan EIBC members up-to-date as the MPSC continues revising these important rules.
Recovery from COVID-19 Will Involve Policy Action for Advanced Energy
At the beginning of this week, Gov. Whitmer discussed a plan to gradually restart the state’s economy when it is safe to do so. While that is good news, the economic impact of the pandemic will linger for long after the first closed businesses reopen.
That’s why Michigan EIBC is engaged in activities to support the recovery of the state’s advanced energy industry. For example, on May 4 Michigan EIBC is hosting an event to inform legislators and legislative on how and why to help this key industry survive.This event, “COVID-19 and the Advanced Energy Industry,” will include panelists from Michigan EIBC member companies Walker-Miller Energy Services, Hydrostor, and Foresight who are working in energy efficiency, energy usage, and energy storage. The event is open to Michigan EIBC members.
At the same time, Michigan EIBC is working on a list of recommendations for both short-term and long-term steps that the governor, the legislature and regulatory agencies can take to limit job losses in Michigan’s advanced energy sector and get the industry back to work when the timing is right. The event on May 4 will further explore many of these areas of policy action.
These proposals include developing detailed and centralized guidance from state government on how to operate with social distancing guidelines, lifting the cap on distributed solar to provide market certainty to the rooftop solar industry, and allocating additional funding to Michigan Saves to support its activities providing a loan loss reserve to attract financing for energy projects. It also includes more long-term goals like on-bill financing for energy waste reduction projects and community resilience grants to support the development of local clean energy solutions like microgrids.
State legislators and their staff can contact us to RSVP for the May 4 virtual event.
Next “Bring Your Own Lunch (& Learn)” About Solar Land Lease Opportunities
The next entry in Michigan EIBC’s new webinar series is on Friday, May 8 from 12:00 to 1:00 pm, featuring John Kinch, Executive Director of Michigan Energy Options, speaking on Michigan Department of Natural Resources Utility-Scale Solar Land Lease Opportunities During the Economic Recovery.
A team of consultants led by Kinch, Joe Kopp of Sun Store Energy, and Tim Skrotzki of Elevate Energy are supporting the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in the development of solar power on its properties. In particular, this webinar will discuss land lease RFPs for two potential utility-scale solar projects. The team wants to discuss with Michigan EIBC members their preferred qualities of utility-scale project RFPs and evaluation criteria.
This event is for Michigan EIBC members only. Michigan EIBC members will receive a calendar invite with Zoom conference line information.
Inclusive Prosperity Capital
Existing at the intersection of green energy finance, community development and climate impact, Inclusive Prosperity Capital seeks to address the clean energy financing gap by increasing access to capital for low-to-moderate income communities and nontraditional credits like nonprofits, faith-based organizations, housing authorities, schools, and smaller businesses. Through our suite of financing products and network of partners, Inclusive Prosperity Capital will reduce the energy burden on residents, improve the health and resiliency of homes and multifamily properties, and help businesses and non-profits in distressed communities.
Inclusive Prosperity Capital is a strategic partner of the Connecticut Green Bank, focused on scaling the Green Bank’s work in Connecticut, and expanding this successful model into other states and regions by accessing new capital sources.
At Martin Waymire, we’re proud to support clients working to make Michigan a better place. For more than a decade, we’ve earned the trust and respect of hundreds of clients, managing award-winning public relations, digital marketing and advocacy campaigns with winning results. It’s why we’re considered one of the top public relations firms in the state.
Clarke Energy is a multinational specialist in the engineering, installation and maintenance of reciprocating engine-based power plants. Our offering ranges from the supply of an engine-generator, through to the turn-key installation of a multi-engine power plant. Our systems deliver fuel efficiency and help reduce carbon emissions. Applications include combined heat and power (CHP) with natural gas, biogas, landfill gas and coal gas power generation. We are the largest authorized distributor and service provider for INNIO Jenbacher reciprocating engines.
The company’s focus is on delivering quality installations, backed up with reliable, accountable aftersales support. We have a culture of integrity and high ethical standards. Clarke Energy has a dedicated, highly trained team of sales, engineering, project management, commissioning and maintenance staff deployed around the world.
Spartan Renewable Energy
Spartan Renewable Energy was founded in 2006 to sell renewable energy into Michigan’s Electric Choice market and to develop renewable energy projects. Spartan is a licensed Alternative Electric Supplier and also has market-based rate authority to sell into wholesale energy markets. Spartan is a member of Wolverine Power Cooperative.
Michigan Energy News
- CMS Energy, the corporate parent of Consumers Energy, reports that since shelter-in-place began, C&I power sales have fallen 20% to 25%, while residential sales increased by about 5%.
- DTE, meanwhile, says it will have to cut O&M expenses to offset lower revenue due to the pandemic.
- Bad air pollution in Wayne County is one reason why COVID-19 has had worse impacts there.
- DTE announces that the 68-turbine, 168-MW Polaris Wind park, developed by Michigan EIBC member Invenergy, has commenced operations in Gratiot County.
- Construction will resume in May at DTE’s 1,150-MW natural gas-fired power plant in St. Clair County.
- The nonprofit group THAW is offering $500 per customer in assistance to pay utility bills for essential workers.
National Energy News
- The American Wind Energy Association announces that 1,821 MW of new wind projects were installed in the first quarter of 2020, a 117% increase from the first quarter last year.
- Regulatory commissions need to act quickly to protect utility consumers before shutoff moratoriums end, John Howat of the National Consumer Law Center writes.
- Michigan EIBC member Q Cells has the biggest share of both the residential and C&I solar module market.
- Greentech Media finds mixed signals on whether the pandemic has cratered activity in power purchase agreements for renewable energy projects.
- Wisconsin utility Alliant Energy builds a solar array and battery storage for two state Department of Natural Resources buildings.
- There is a proliferation of 100-plus-MW solar projects under development in the U.S., with corporate buyers one of the driving forces behind them.
- A new co-op in Minnesota wants to use the power of bulk purchasing to bring solar power to more parts of the state.
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.
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
The Mid-America Regulatory Conference, an association of regional organizations of utility and regulatory agencies from 14 states, is holding its annual meeting in Grand Rapids on June 21-24.
On July 21-23, 2020 PlugVolt will be hosting its next Battery Seminar in Plymouth, MI (USA), featuring an entire day of in-depth technical tutorials presented by renowned professors from several US universities on Day 1, followed by Days 2 and 3 with industry subject matter experts presenting on Automotive and Stationary Storage applications respectively. Attendees will also get an exclusive opportunity to tour A123 Systems’ new Novi, Michigan (USA) facility.
The NetZeroBuild Summit 2020, bringing together the key stakeholders involved in the Midwest’s value chain for net-zero construction in residential, commercial, academic and government buildings, is in Novi from August 25-26 (New dates due to delay related to the coronavirus.)
National Energy Events
The Midwest Solar Expo, previously scheduled from May 19-21 in Minneapolis, has been postponed.
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. 5 Lakes Energy is seeking to hire a full-time campaign coordinator for the Land and Liberty Coalition, a Midwest regional collaborative fighting at the local level for the successful siting of renewable energy projects. Click here for the full job description including responsibilities, qualifications, and application instructions.
Ann Arbor Public Schools have an RFP for an electric bus charging station.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has two new RFPs related to renewable energy projects at the Oden Fish Hatchery. The RFPs are published on the state’s online bidding portal. Search for numbers 20*1376 and 20*1377 (Note: These RFPs have been put on hold until further notice).
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources also plans to publish a RFP for leasing state forest land to utility-scale solar arrays. Go to the online bidding portal and use commodity code 91018 – Energy Systems, Solar Installation Systems.
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 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.