Rooftop Solar and the EV Transition, Comments on Consumers Energy Modernization Plan 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:

Rep. Markkanen: Better Rooftop Solar Policy Needed For The EV Transition

The Ford F-150 Lightning EV truck announcement was historic for electric vehicles (EVs), but it also underscores the need for Michigan to move at full speed toward more renewable energy. Most significantly, EVs like the F-150 Lightning show another reason why Michigan needs to remove the cap on rooftop solar, state Rep. Greg Markkanen, writes in an op-ed published this week by the Mining Journal in Marquette, home of Michigan EIBC member Peninsula Solar.

“Ford’s announcement that it is partnering to install an all-in-one solar system that will power electric vehicles like the Ford F-150 Lightning is historic,” Markkanen writes. “We need a vibrant local solar market and changes to Michigan’s outdated law to eliminate the cap on rooftop solar, so homeowners and businesses will be able to benefit from this all-in-one system. Otherwise, electric vehicle owners will continue plugging into outlets powered by coal and natural gas.”

Markkanen, the sponsor of HB 4236, says he is constantly getting calls and questions from constituents in the Upper Peninsula who want rooftop solar to reduce their high utility bills. They are being frustrated by the cap that limits how much distributed generation Upper Peninsula Power Co. must interconnect. 

“However, for the better part of five months, Michigan’s major utility companies have stood in the way of this choice and the bill hasn’t made it out of the House Energy Committee chaired by my colleague, Rep. Joe Bellino. Michigan’s utilities have a monopoly on the market, and they are compelled to keep it that way because that’s one of the ways the utilities make money,” Markkanen writes. 

Michigan EIBC Recommends Changes to Consumers Energy Grid Modernization Plan

Consumers Energy has released an initial draft of a plan the utility says shows how it will transform its management of the distribution grid in tune with the broader transformation toward more decentralized and distributed energy sources, and Michigan EIBC, along with Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), provided comments to describe how the utility could make this plan better and more ambitious.

Every three years Michigan’s utilities file an Electric Distribution Infrastructure Investment Plan with the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC). According to Consumers Energy’s initial draft, the 2021 plan is focused on two overarching concepts: “excelling at the basics”—such as maintaining core distribution grid assets like poles, wires and substations—and “building for the future”—which means “enabling the transition to cleaner energy resources, including integration of distributed energy resources (‘DERs’), and increasing automation of the system, using advanced grid technologies.”

The joint comments filed with the MPSC by Michigan EIBC and AEE identified several areas where the draft plan is not moving at the pace of the broader energy transition. For example, Consumers Energy said it will pursue more non-wires alternatives (NWAs) projects, in which DERs are used in place of traditional poles-and-wires projects. We are happy to see the utility planning to invest in NWAs, but the proposed schedule for NWA pilot programs extends out to 2027. This timeline is long, “potentially causing the Company to miss NWA opportunities that may be viable in the meantime. We recommend that Consumers explore opportunities to accelerate its NWA timetable,” Michigan EIBC/AEE’s comments said. 

Similarly, the utility has a proposal for performance-based ratemaking that would not take effect until 2025. This timeline would cause Consumers Energy’s customers to miss out on benefits that performance incentive mechanisms are bringing to customers in other states right now. These mechanisms can incentivize utilities to pursue peak load reduction, DER grid services capability and much more.

Michigan EIBC/AEE also found several areas where Consumers Energy could allow for a bigger role to third-party companies. For example, the utility is developing a grid services platform (GSP) that will allow it to “effectively integrate increasing amounts of DERs,” and potentially make DER and demand response aggregation able to participate in wholesale markets. Behind-the-meter DERs, such as customer-sited batteries, to name one example, must be able to aggregate and participate. “It is critical that Consumers design their GSP to allow for third party aggregation and participation of these behind-the-meter resources,” Michigan EIBC/AEE’s comments said. “Doing so ensures that ratepayers, who bear the costs of installation and maintenance of these systems, are able to benefit from choice in these technologies in order to pay the lowest price possible and receive the maximum financial benefit.”

Consumers Energy will file its final version of this plan along with its integrated resource plan by June 30, 2021.  

June 15 Energy Storage Convening To Examine Multi-Faceted Role For Storage in Changing Regulatory Environment

Michigan EIBC’s next virtual Energy Storage Convening, scheduled for June 15 from 9 am to 11 am, will kick off with MPSC Commissioner Katherine Peretick setting the stage for the discussion of the role energy storage can play in the grid, especially given the pending implementation of regulatory changes that are creating market opportunities where there were not before. Michigan EIBC has been calling for the MPSC to ensure that energy storage projects can live up to their full potential and provide multiple services with multiple value streams.

Commissioner Peretick has a unique perspective on the multi-faceted role of storage due to her previous work designing energy storage projects, from battery projects to novel types of storage like compressed air projects.

Also speaking at the convening is Sarah Martz of Alliant Energy. Alliant, based in Madison, Wisc., has been pursuing innovative energy storage projects, including a battery storage project to support increasing amounts of customer-sited renewables in Decorah, Iowa.

RSVP at no cost here.

The meeting is sponsored by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE).

New Members

Tetra Tech

Tetra Tech is a leading provider of environmental consulting, engineering, and technical services worldwide. We are a diverse company, including individuals with expertise in science, research, engineering, construction, and information technology. Our strength is in collectively providing integrated services, delivering the best solutions to meet our clients’ needs. 


Ms. Duggan is founder and CEO of SustainabiliD, a sustainability and strategy consulting firm. Duggan is a Member of the Board of Directors of Perma-Fix Environmental Services, Inc. (NASDAQ: PESI). She sits on the advisory boards of RockCreek Global Investment, Aclima, Inc., Walker-Miller Energy Services, Arctaris Impact Investors Opportunity Zone Fund and HeatX. She is a Senior Fellow with the Federation of American Scientists.  In 2021, Governor Whitmer appointed Ms. Duggan to the State of Michigan’s Council on Climate Solutions. In 2020-21, Ms. Duggan was a policy advisor and surrogate for the Biden campaign. Ms. Duggan was also a Biden appointee to the Biden-Sanders Unity Climate Change Task Force.  After nearly seven years in federal service, Ms. Duggan co-founded the Smart Cities Lab, was a Partner with the Honorable Thomas J. Ridge’s firm, RIDGE-LANE Limited Partners, and served on the external advisory board of the University of Michigan’s Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise and was a Board Member at the Global Council for Science and the Environment. She was also a Trustee of the University Liggett School. In 2018, Ms. Duggan was named to the prestigious “40 Under 40” list by Crain’s Detroit Business.

Ms. Duggan worked in the Obama-Biden White House as Deputy Director for Policy to then Vice President Joe Biden, covering energy, environment, climate and distressed communities. Simultaneously, she served as Deputy Director of the Detroit Federal Working Group to support Detroit’s revitalization. Prior to the White House, Ms. Duggan held several senior roles at the Department of Energy, including as Secretary Moniz’s embedded Liaison to the City of Detroit (where she championed a citywide LED streetlight conversion), and in the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy as Director of Stakeholder Engagement, Director of Legislative, Regulatory & Urban Affairs, and as a Senior Policy Advisor.  Previous work including policy and campaigns at the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), Michigan LCV and the Michigan Environmental Council.  Ms. Duggan earned her B.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Vermont and her M.S. in Natural Resource Policy & Behavior from the University of Michigan.  

Renewing Member


Oracle offers a complete suite of operational applications and cloud services for electric, natural gas, and water utilities world-wide that automate core operational processes and enable compliance in a dynamic and changing industry. With the April 2016 acquisition of Opower, Oracle incorporates industry-leading behavioral energy efficiency, behavioral demand response, and customer engagement capabilities. To date, these energy programs have resulted in over seventeen terawatt-hours of cost-effective energy savings from energy efficiency and enabled over $2 billion in customer bill savings.

Michigan Energy News

  • DTE CEO Jerry Norcia says EVs “will be a game-changer in terms of demand for the electric industry” and to meet that demand DTE will likely not be retiring its coal power plants earlier than previously announced.
  • T&D World gives an overview of the ways that policymakers, utilities and regulators are trying to make Michigan “the beating heart of electrification.”
  • U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) visits Michigan EIBC member Hemlock Semiconductor and talks about her proposals to shore up the domestic supply chain for semiconductor and other energy technology manufacturing.
  • Starting June 1 Consumers Energy residential customers are paying 50% more for electricity during peak afternoon hours under its new standard summer peak rate that came out of a 2019 pilot.
  • The East Lansing Commission on the Environment is looking for ways to improve sustainability through energy efficiency and renewable energy.
  • Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel argues in a legal brief that the dispute over the Line 5 pipeline is purely a state law issue and that federal U.S. or Canadian laws do not play a role.

National Energy News

  • Up-front incentives for upgrading home appliances to electric versions are a critical policy tool to achieve electrification on a reasonable time scale, according to a new report from Rewiring America and the Center for American Progress.
  • The Biden administration is in a dispute with some climate advocates over the degree to which investment in fossil fuels like funding for carbon capture technology should be part of the administration’s policies.
  • Biden’s budget proposal includes over $800 billion over ten years in new spending and tax breaks for clean energy technologies, transmission lines, energy efficiency and more.
  • Record-low bid prices for solar, wind and storage in an Xcel Energy competitive solicitation in Colorado are showing the benefits of open, “all-source” competitive bidding processes.
  • Exactly how much carbon emissions can be attributed to marijuana cultivation facilities differs highly based on the part of the country in which the facility is located.
  • Nevada lawmakers pass a bill that sets an accelerated deadline for the completion of the $2 billion “GreenLink Nevada” transmission project and also puts the state on the path to join a regional transmission organization.

Michigan and National Energy Events

Michigan EIBC’s next Storage Convening, on Distribution and Transmission Applications of Storage, is on June 15 and free registration is available here.

The SEIA Finance & Tax Seminar is back this year on June 24 with both in-person and virtual elements that connect hundreds of tax, finance, business, and legal leaders for an in-depth look at solar financing trends. Register here.

The 25th Michigan Energy Providers Conference 2021 at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island from July 29-30 will provide a unique perspective of the future of energy and related policy needs in Michigan, and offer an opportunity to build relationships with others in the industry. CDC guidelines will be followed and all proper protocols will be taken to ensure a safe event. Conference registration will open soon.
The PlugVolt Battery Seminar 2021 in Plymouth, Mich., has been postponed from July to the new dates of Oct. 5-7. The conference will feature “technical tutorials on fundamental materials’ challenges for electrochemical energy storage, opportunities and challenges with solid-state batteries, best design practices for cell engineering, battery modeling and health monitoring, second life design considerations for energy storage, etc.,” as well as a tour of A123 Systems in Novi. Registration is open here. The U.S. Energy Storage Association Annual Conference & Expo (#ESACon21) will convene December 1-3 in Phoenix to bring together buyers, sellers, investors, and leaders in the energy storage industry for an event focused on driving deals and business in the energy storage industry. The #ESACon21 is a must attend for anyone looking to expand their business, invest in, or develop partnerships in the energy storage industry. Learn more here. 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 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.