- Newsletter (345)
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:
Member Company Speaks Out About Distributed Generation Cap
Michigan EIBC member company Harvest Solar has published a powerful message that calls out Michigan legislators for not yet increasing the cap on distributed generation, despite the benefits of distributed solar enjoyed by thousands of Michigan homes and businesses—in some cases, the homes of the legislators themselves.
Sen. Mike Shirkey, majority leader of the Michigan Senate, has had a solar array at his farm installed by Harvest Solar for years now. “Sen. Shirkey, you know the benefits of solar from your own experience with your own home array. Help others in your community access these benefits and protect Michigan-grown businesses against onerous, unnecessary limits on the free market—lift the cap,” Harvest Solar Director of Sales – Commercial/AG Ken Zebarah writes in the open letter published on the company’s website.
While Consumers Energy recently agreed to increase its DG cap, this is not a long-term solution and the cap will likely be reached relatively soon for other utilities like DTE. In addition, it is clear from this decision by Consumers that the level of the cap is completely arbitrary.
“If the legislature does not address and render this issue, Harvest Solar will be forced to shift focus to neighboring states such as Illinois and Indiana,” Zebarah wrote. “This is a painful reality causing a direct existential threat to my livelihood, my company, and our employees.”
Cory Connolly Talks MI Clean Energy Leaders On Public Radio
While the pandemic has prevented the MI Clean Energy Leaders Project from holding in-person events, the project has continued its work of fostering the development of up-and-coming clean energy talent in Michigan. In a recent installment of the Getting Green segment on WGVU radio broadcast from Grand Rapids, Michigan EIBC VP of Policy Cory Connolly talked about the goal of the program to build a “diverse, collaborative and deeply interconnected community of folks working on clean energy and environmental issues across the state of Michigan.” Cory himself experienced such a community when he was at Michigan State University, and members of that group of clean energy-interested students have gone on to various leadership positions across the advanced energy industry. That experience inspired the MI Clean Energy Leadership Project. “Could I give that [community] to another generation of folks by setting up this program?” Cory said.
The current cohort of 15 leaders have been meeting virtually and attending webinars to bring them together during the current circumstances so they can educate each other based on their own individual expertise.
Meet Our Interns – Aaron Kurz
Aaron Kurz grew up in Ann Arbor and got his bachelor’s degree in Earth and Environmental Sciences from U of M, and things only get more maize and blue from there! He is in his fifth year of his PhD program in Environmental Isotope Geochemistry at U of M.
Aaron has been interning for Michigan EIBC since May of 2020, researching behind-the-meter energy storage, wind permitting issues and community solar programs and legislation in other states. His work at Michigan EIBC is part of his long-term ambitions to advance clean energy policy. “In 10 years I hope to be leading a team of clean energy analysts using quantitative analysis to further understand how best to continue in the energy transition with a focus on environmental justice and equity,” he says.
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Michigan Energy News
- The Michigan House strips out language from legislation that would have potentially allowed Tesla to own and operate service and repair facilities.
- A focus on electric vehicles in a new Biden administration would mean jobs for Michigan, U.S. Rep. Andy Levin said.
- The movement toward microgrids in the U.S. is picking up steam, according to Jose Alfaro of the University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems.
- Kris Young, Chief of Staff to Michigan House of Representatives Democratic Leader Christine Greig, will join Michigan EIBC member Plunkett Cooney on Jan. 4.
- Consumers Energy plans to decarbonize faster than most other U.S. utilities, the largest of which have adopted a “sluggish” pace, according to the Energy and Policy Institute.
- Grand Rapids city commissioners approve a plan for a solar array at the Lake Michigan Filtration Plant that would meet 10% of the plant’s annual power needs.
National Energy News
- Deploying local rooftop and community solar combined with storage to power a quarter of all homes in the U.S. would be the most cost-effective way to cut emissions by 95% compared to 1990 levels, according to a new study from Michigan EIBC member Sunrun, Vote Solar and the Coalition for Community Solar Access.
- Southern Company utility Mississippi Power Co. is planning a “smart neighborhood” featuring Powerwall batteries, energy efficient equipment and appliances, and smart home automation.
- California, Kentucky, Kansas and Connecticut are four states where important proceedings about the future of net metering are underway.
- A new city code in Boise, Idaho, will require newly constructed homes with garages to have high-voltage circuits for electric vehicle charging.
- The 476 MW of storage added in the U.S. in the third quarter of the year is the biggest quarterly increase ever, according to Wood Mackenzie.
- A multi-billion-dollar question for utilities around the country concerns which party will pick up the tab for shutoff moratoria during the pandemic.
- Solar-plus-storage is showing signs of outcompeting gas-fired generation, making 100% renewable energy more likely, according to a BloombergNEF report.
Michigan and National Energy Events
Register now for the next entry in the UP Clean Energy Series, to be held Jan. 14, titled “Solar Energy Case Studies – Lessons from On the Ground Projects.”
On Dec. 14 Michigan EIBC state partner organization the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum is hosting a virtual forum about the circular economy, including “perspectives on recycling, product design, zero waste to landfill, industrial composting, policy and market development.” Register here.
The National Regulatory Research Institute has a three-part webinar series on “The Impact of COVID-19 on Utility Rate Making.”
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.
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.
The state of Michigan has released a Request for Proposals for the Prequalification Program for Renewable Energy PPAs. Vendors who wish to bid on solar PPAs for future projects must be prequalified through this process. Access the RFP documents through SIGMA. The deadline for proposals is Dec. 21.
Indiana Michigan Power Company has issued two Request For Proposals to obtain up to 450 MW of solar or wind energy resources. Proposals are due Jan. 15, 2021.
The Green Task Force is requesting that non-profit and faith-based organizations fill out a brief survey to assess readiness for solar projects.
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 2030districts.org/Detroit to find out more information including how a building can apply.