Renewables and Grid Reliability, An EV Ford F-150, Corporate Solar Investment

Renewable Energy and Grid Reliability Can Work Together

A recent report from the Congressional Research Service finds that electric reliability has been “stable or improving” from 2013 to 2017, a period over which the amount of wind and solar generation on the grid grew dramatically.

This finding runs counter to the argument sometimes made that the intermittent nature of wind and solar energy mean that more renewables will inevitably mean a more unstable grid. “Some Members of Congress have expressed concerns about the reliability of the electric power system given recent growth in generation from wind and solar sources and projections that growth will continue,” the report stated.

The report outlines the various initiatives that the North American Electric Reliability Corp., regional transmission organizations, independent system operators and other bodies are undertaking to ensure reliability keeps improving as more wind and solar gets added to the grid. For example, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), the grid operator for most of the Midwest including most of Michigan, changed its wholesale electricity market rules to allow wind energy sources to offer generation at five-minute intervals, rather than just hourly intervals previously required. This change improves reliability by allowing the grid operator to better deal with the variability of wind, which can change over the course of an hour but rarely varies much over five minutes.

As detailed in a report released by the Michigan Citizens Utility Board last week, reliability is a problem for Michigan. However, according to the report, insufficient infrastructure at the distribution level, not renewable energy, is the primary cause of that problem. Appropriate regulatory policies, effective energy management, and energy storage can ensure that increasing renewables on the grid improves reliability. This is an issue Michigan EIBC has been talking about frequently this year and will continue to do so at workshops with the Michigan Public Service Commission.  

Ford F-150 Truck To Go All-Electric

The Ford F-150 pickup truck has been the best-selling vehicle model in America for many years and by some counts is the most popular vehicle in U.S. history.

The iconic status of the truck means that the development of an electric F-150 would be a historic milestone for the EV industry. With the recent release of a video showing an all-electric F-150 prototype towing an over 1 million-pound train, Ford recently revealed that this milestone could happen sooner than many expected. 

Exactly when an EV F-150 will be commercially available is unclear, with no specific timeline for release. But an electric version of the truck is possibly the most high-profile announcement by Ford since the company said last year that it will invest $11 billion in EVs through 2023, including 16 fully electric models to come out by 2022.

Ford also invested $500 million into Plymouth, Mich.-based Rivian, a startup working on an electric pickup truck and has recently hired employees from Ford, Tesla and others. Michigan EIBC member Amazon has also invested $700 million into Rivian.

At the same time, Tesla CEO Elon Musk is already talking about his company’s forthcoming electric pickup truck as a rival to the F-150. “If the F-150 can tow it, the Tesla truck can do it,” Musk said at Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting. 

Solar Energy Industries Association Report Tracks Growth in Corporate Renewable Energy Purchases

Corporate investment into solar energy drove the number of U.S. commercial solar installations up to over 7 gigawatts by the end of 2018. This is 23 times the level of deployment just 10 years ago, according to the new 7th annual “Solar Means Business” report from the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Over 1.1 gigawatts were installed in 2018 alone, making it the second-largest year for corporate solar installations (slightly behind 2017).

“The future is bright for commercial solar,” the report said, citing reductions in tariffs on modules, growth in corporate off-site and community solar projects, price declines for solar plus storage and corporate demand for 100% renewable energy as all positive factors that will push back against the expiration of the federal investment tax credit for solar.

Apple topped the report’s list of corporations with the most solar capacity, followed by Michigan EIBC member Amazon and Target.

While SEIA could not count every single commercial solar installation in the country, the report includes data for over 35,000 commercial solar PV systems and captures nearly 70% of all solar capacity in the U.S. through the end of 2018.

The report also lists the top 10 states by commercial solar capacity, which are led by California, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and North Carolina, in order. While Michigan did not appear in the top 10, one of the opportunities driving more commercial solar deployment is the trend of corporate renewable energy commitments. In 2016, General Motors established a goal of 100% renewable energy by 2050. As Michigan Radio recently reported in a story about Toyota’s commitment to purchase wind and solar to offset 40% of its emissions at North American facilities, both GM and Ford Motor Company are planning to buy wind energy from DTE.

Renewing Member

Renewable Properties
Founded in 2017, Renewable Properties specializes in developing and investing in small-scale utility and commercial solar energy projects throughout the U.S. Led by experienced renewable energy professionals with development and investment experience, Renewable Properties works closely with communities, developers, landowners, utilities and financial institutions looking to invest in large solar energy systems. For more information about Renewable Properties,

Michigan Energy News

  • Following mass power outages, Attorney General Dana Nessel calls for reform to the process when utility customers receive bill credits for outages, including automating the credits and updating their value.
  • A new report card from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranks Detroit 63rd and Grand Rapids 38th out of 75 cities on policies for energy efficiency and renewable energy.
  • The Detroit City Council passes an ordinance with a goal of cutting the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30% over the next five years.
  • The City of Detroit has won a $2.6 million federal grant for low or zero-emission forms of transportation such as buses.
  • New research from the University of Michigan models the massive reductions in emissions that could come with greater deployment of energy storage combined with renewables.
  • EV charging is growing in popularity in downtown Marquette thanks to a charging station from Michigan EIBC member ChargePoint.
  • Consumers Energy says its EV charging station program is exceeding expectations and may be expanded.
  • Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, in response to recent mass outages, says that the state’s utilities should be required to automatically issue bill credits to customers who face prolonged service interruption.

National Energy News

  • A $287 billion transportation bill introduced in the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works includes a $1 billion competitive grant program for EV and hydrogen and natural gas-fueling infrastructure.
  • American Electric Power’s $700 million, 10-year grid modernization plan for Ohio includes more smart meters for rural parts of the state.
  • Battery storage industry groups say that PJM Interconnection’s new proposed rules for batteries to compete in capacity markets are “unworkable, arbitrary and discriminatory.”
  • While Ohio’s recent energy bill cuts the state’s clean energy standards, Michigan EIBC member Apex Clean Energy says its Emerson Creek wind project under development near Lake Erie is unaffected and still moving ahead.
  • Colorado follows California and strikes a deal with automakers for zero-emission vehicle requirements.
  • Tesla’s deployment of its Powerwall and Powerpack energy storage systems grew by 81% in the second quarter of 2019, according to the company
  • Legislation that would extend the solar investment tax credit for five years is introduced in U.S. Congress.

Michigan Energy Events

On Aug. 6 learn about the future of urban transportation, including how to use incentives for EV infrastructure, at a 2030 Districts Network event at Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids on Aug. 6. Register here.

Michigan EIBC member Energy Sciences is conducting training sessions on the current Michigan Energy Code, which was recently revised with new requirements for lighting, HVAC, building envelope, motors, commissioning and more. These training sessions are sponsored by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. They are free to attend but you must register for a specific session. Links for each session are listed below:

Baraga – Aug. 5
Alpena – Aug. 7
Bay City – Aug. 8
Benton Harbor – Aug. 12
Muskegon – Aug. 13

Michigan Energy Options is holding a Summer Solar Webinar Series. On Sept. 19, Marta Tomic of Vote Solar will discuss community solar projects.

The Battery Show’s North America 2019 conference on Sept. 12 to 19 in Novi will feature exhibitors and speakers covering all stages of the advanced battery supply chain. Learn more here.

For those interested in all sustainability issues, tickets are now available for the Rise Up & Drawdown Michigan conference at DeVos Conference Center in Grand Rapids on Sept. 25. Also see the exhibitor opportunity listed below.

National Energy Events

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s U.S. Commercial Service is holding Discover Global Markets: Powering & Building the Middle East & Africa in Houston, Texas from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2. This event is for companies who want to learn how to enter the renewable energy, electricity infrastructure, construction, engineering, transportation and oil & gas sectors in the Middle East & Africa. There is also the opportunity to pre-schedule meetings at the event with U.S. commercial diplomats. Learn more here.

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.

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

The U.S. Commercial Service has also organized the Clean Energy and Zero Emission Vehicle Technologies Trade Mission to Mexico from November 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 The U.S. Commercial Service is also offering free consultancies for Michigan EIBC members interested in these business sectors in Mexico.


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.

Click here to learn more about reserving an exhibitor table at the Rise Up & Drawdown Michigan conference in Grand Rapids on Sept. 25