Senate Finance Committee Approves Bills to Clarify Solar Taxation Issues

Senate Finance Committee Approves Bills to Clarify Solar Taxation Issues

HB 5143 and HB 5680 are one step closer to the Governor’s desk after the Senate Finance Committee voted the bills to the Senate floor yesterday. Taxes on solar panels are currently assessed inconsistently across the state and this legislation is necessary to avoid the patchwork system of interpretation and enforcement. A contradictory set of policies from the Michigan Tax Tribunal and Michigan Agency for Energy has further complicated and confused the situation. The bill package seeks to solve the problem.

HB 5143 was introduced by Representative Tom Barrett in October 2017. The bill exempts behind-the-meter distributed energy generation systems from real property tax assessment. It applies to fuel cell, photovoltaic, solar-thermal, wind, CHP, microturbine, miniturbine, Stirling cycle, battery cell, clean fuel, and electricity storage systems. This exemption was originally created through 2002 PA 549 authored by Sen. Randy Richardville, but has since expired.

Under HB 5143, those technologies are again exempt from property taxes as long as they are used to generate electricity that is 1) used on-site, 2) used to offset all or a portion of the commercial or industrial energy used on that property, and 3) has a nameplate capacity of no more than 150 kW, and 4) meets the less than $80,000 true cash value metric set forth in a treasury regulation.

HB 5680 adds alternative energy systems to the list of repairs and household upgrades that are not considered when determining the true cash value of a property for assessment purposes, until the property is sold. It does this by adding alternative energy systems to the list of “Eligible Repairs” under the Mathieu-Gast Act (MCL 277.27(2)).

“We are pleased the Senate Finance Committee approved this common sense, bipartisan legislation that clarifies how solar panels impact property taxes,” said Liesl Clark, president of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council. “As technology continues to progress, rooftop solar has become an increasingly popular way for families and businesses to reduce electricity costs by generating their own electricity. These bills ensure that we don’t have a confusing patchwork of taxation across the state.”

Michigan EIBC Member Company Foresight Expands Herman Miller Renewables Goals Via Wind Power

Earlier this month, Michigan EIBC member company Foresight partnered with Constellation Energy to help furniture-maker Herman Miller procure to 100% renewable energy for the company’s facilities in Spring Lake, Michigan.

“This project will help us meet our sustainability goals — and doesn’t negatively impact our business,” said Gabe Wing, director of Safety and Sustainability at Herman Miller. ”We will continue to reduce our carbon footprint through energy efficiency projects and supporting green energy projects like Harvest II where the market allows.”

The agreement will supply Herman Miller with approximately 25,000 megawatt-hours of wind annually, all sourced from the Harvest II wind project located in Elkton, Michigan.

Michigan companies like Herman Miller are increasingly looking for options to purchase advanced energy solutions to help power their Michigan-based operations. Michigan EIBC and the Institute for Energy Innovation (IEI) are helping to bring information about these trends to policy makers and business leaders. On October 25, Michigan EIBC is hosting an event with the Michigan Chamber of Commerce focused on corporate procurement of renewable energy. And on December 5, IEI is hosting Corporate Purchasers 101, a lunch and learn event for Michigan legislators and staff as well as Michigan EIBC member companies.

Michigan EIBC Releases EV Report

This week, Michigan EIBC released a report with recommendations on next steps to promote advanced mobility and transportation electrification in Michigan based on five stakeholder convenings held in 2018.

As the advanced mobility state, the answer to “what’s going on in Michigan?” needs to be that “we’re creating the premiere EV program in the nation,” stated Liesl Eichler Clark, Michigan EIBC president. “As mobility as a service, shared rides, and automated and connected transportation grow, the electrified powertrain is the platform for the transportation future.”

Recognizing the economic opportunity for Michigan as a leader in the burgeoning advanced mobility sector and understanding that automated, connected, and shared vehicles will not hit Michigan roads without wide-scale vehicle electrification, Michigan EIBC convened a series of meetings focused on electric vehicles (EVs) for stakeholders across the advanced mobility space. These convenings included stakeholders from industry, government, nonprofits, and a variety of other actors. The convenings addressed 1) utility pilot programs and the Volkswagen settlement; 2) customer education and awareness; 3) long-dwell and DC fast charging infrastructure; 4) fleet electrification; and 5) rate design.

Approximately 140 stakeholders from 74 organizations participated in the five EV convenings. Given the array of topics, some stakeholders attended multiple convenings or all convenings, while others participated on only one topic. The meetings were sponsored by Advanced Energy Economy, DTE Energy, Consumers Energy, the Michigan Agency for Energy, CLEAResult, the Ecology Center, and Lyft.

As stated in the report, “the convergence of the energy and mobility sectors represents a disruptive inflection point for transportation and electricity that – if harnessed – can give the state of Michigan an advantage by utilizing the state’s unique strength in the battery industry, electrified power train engineering, advanced energy industry, and – not least – automotive industry.”

Also this week, a joint announcement from Consumers Energy and General Motors underscored the convergence highlighted in the report. At a press conference with Michigan EIBC President Liesl Eichler Clark, Consumers Energy and General Motors announced a pilot program to test smart charging for electric vehicles. Consumers Energy also announced that it would be buying or leasing electric vehicles instead of purchasing new sedans that rely on gasoline and highlighted its plans to invest $7.5 million in electric vehicle charging infrastructure over the next three years.

“It’s important to see Michigan companies like Consumers Energy and General Motors take such significant steps to promote electric vehicles here in our state,” said Liesl Clark, president of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council. “We need to drive Michigan’s advanced mobility industry to build a road to bright future for Michigan’s economy and environment.”

Michigan Energy Stories

National Energy Stories


Michigan Energy Events
The University of Michigan’s Energy Club at Ross (ECR) proudly presents the 2018 Energy Conference. This year’s theme is “Disruptive Futures in Energy Technology” where the focus will be on how disruptive technologies and innovative business models are rapidly shaping the future of energy. Michigan EIBC President Liesl Eichler Clark will be a speaker at the event on September 28 at the Ross School of Business, 701 Tappan Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, Colloquium (6th Floor)

On September 29, 2018, The Michigan Chapter of the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE) will host its First Annual Energy Ball. The event will be held at the Michigan Science Center, 5020 John R St, Detroit, MI. A VIP networking reception, including live entertainment, begins at 6:00 p.m., followed by dinner and program at 7:00 p.m. Click here for more information.

MSU IPU invites you to the 60th Annual Regulatory Studies Program’s 13th Advanced Regulatory Studies Program: Ratemaking, Accounting, Finance, and Evaluation. The event will provide intensive, interactive, and technical workshops for experienced professionals in the regulatory policy community. It will take place October 1-5 in East Lansing.

October 7-12 is Detroit Mobility Week which is a celebration of Detroit’s global leadership in automotive and next-generation mobility and features a number of events.

On October 16 from 9am – 11am the Energy Services Coalition will host a training session at Lansing Community College West titled “Solar + Utility Programs.” For more information, email Krista at

On October 25, Michigan EIBC is hosting an event with the Michigan Chamber of Commerce focused on corporate procurement of renewable energy in Lansing.

Michigan EIBC will host a members-only election recap on Friday, November 9. Watch your inboxes for registration details.

Michigan EIBC’s Annual Energy Innovator’s Gala is scheduled for Wednesday, November 14, in Lansing. Sponsorship opportunities are available and interested sponsors should contact Nicole Forward at For more information on the Gala and to register, please check out the website.

IEI will host a Corporate Purchasers Lunch & Learn at the House Office Building in Lansing on December 5. This event will be open to legislators and legislative staff, as well as Michigan EIBC members. Watch your inboxes for registration details.

National Energy Events   
It’s National Clean Energy Week! National Clean Energy Week is taking place across the nation September 24-28, 2018Learn more.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) invite you to Solar Power International, September 24-27, in Anaheim, California. Registration opens in spring of 2018 here.

Join 500+ attendees October 18-19 in Vermont for REVitalize: Transforming Energy Further, Fast, Together with keynote speakers Katherine Hamilton, chair of 38 North Solutions, and Gordan Van Welie, president and CEO of ISO New England.

Attend the 2018 ACEEE Rural Energy Conference on October 22 in Atlanta, Georgia. Register here.

MSU IPU invites you to the 60th Annual Regulatory Studies Program’s 46th Eastern NARUC Utility Rate School. The event provides comprehensive hands-on training on the basics of the public utility ratemaking process and is sponsored by the NARUC Committee on Water and featuring group work on a mock water utility rate case. It will take place October 22-26 in Clearwater Beach, Florida.

Join 20,000 energy professionals at the Energy Storage North America Solar+Storage Summit November 6-8 in Pasadena, California. Register here.

You’re invited to Facing Race, a conference taking place in Detroit November 8-10. The conference will include several components related to energy democracy, helping cities and states to implement their new energy programs in a way that is racially equitable. For more information, please click here.

The 6th Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala is on November 14 in East Lansing hosted by the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) invite you to Solar Power Midwest in Chicago on November 14-15.

Announcements and Opportunities
The Michigan Energy Office (MEO) has announced a pilot program that will offer matching funds to eligible Michigan businesses to develop innovative energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.

USDA announced a set of loan guarantees and grants as a part of USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The deadlines to apply for grants are Oct. 31, 2018, and April 1, 2019. Applications for loan guarantees are accepted year-round. Additional information about the program and how to apply for this funding is available on page 40216 of the Aug. 14, 2018, Federal Register.