Staying the Course on Efficiency Standards, Major Case at FERC and Michigan EIBC Members Adapting to COVID-19

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:

Michigan EIBC in Utility Dive: Why Our State Must Stay The Course On Efficiency Standards

In an article published in Utility Dive, Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman makes the case as to why energy efficiency is more important now than ever and why – contrary to some proposals being discussed in neighboring states – now is not the time to roll back efficiency standards. 

The article includes input from Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) Chairman Sally Talberg about why the MPSC continues to support efficiency, including the recent order about how to keep efficiency programs going during the pandemic.

Please read the full article here.  

Case at FERC Has Important Implications for Distributed Energy Resources

Michigan EIBC has been working hard to get Michigan to adopt policies that fairly value and give fair compensation to distributed energy resources. Now there is a threat at the federal level that could override progress made at the state level by giving the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission the ability to regulate DERs such as rooftop solar. A pending petition before FERC asks the agency to declare that it has jurisdiction over any behind-the-meter generation source, thereby ending the long-held authority of states to give retail customers the ability to generate their own energy while ensuring that all ratepayers are treated fairly. In fact, for two decades, FERC has consistently concluded that net metering and distributed generation programs are retail practices subject to State, and not federal, regulation. The petition asks FERC to upend precedent, subvert state’s rights, and broadly assert federal regulatory authority over retail customers participating in net metering or distributed generation programs. 

The petition contends that compensating outflows onto the grid rooftop solar at the full retail rate of electricity imposes costs on customers who do not use rooftop solar, despite the mountains of evidence that distributed generation like rooftop solar makes the grid more resilient and efficient overall. Michigan EIBC and other groups have been working to propose new approaches that properly recognize the value that distributed generation brings to the grid. For example, see our work on the Powering Michigan Forward legislation, and the Institute for Energy Innovation’s whitepaper that analyzed research and case studies, finding that the value of rooftop solar is greater than the compensation it typically receives from state distributed energy programs. If FERC approves this petition, it could block states’ abilities to design programs to fully unlock the power of DERs to improve the electric grid. 

Stay tuned for more Michigan EIBC action on this issue.  

How Michigan EIBC Members Are Adapting To COVID-19

Michigan EIBC’s May 18 virtual meeting, “COVID-19 and the Advanced Energy Industry,” brought together Michigan EIBC members and MPSC Chairman Sally Talberg, Commissioner Dan Scripps, Commissioner Tremaine Phillips, and MPSC staff to talk about the widely varying effects of the pandemic on business and how member companies are moving forward with hope for the future.

“We are adapting, we are hopeful and we are excited about resuming field operations,” said Sonya Pouncy, senior consultant at Energy Sciences and one of the meeting’s speakers. 

Several member companies reported that they have not experienced as much of a slowdown as they had anticipated. Peninsula Solar, an Upper Peninsula-based residential/commercial solar company, is “feeling really positive about the season moving forward” because none of the projects they had in progress before the pandemic have been canceled, and the company was able to transition to virtual site visits, according to Peninsula Solar project manager Ben Schimpf. However the company is still being “cautious,” he said. It is also putting protocols in place, in line with Gov. Whitmer’s order, to limit the potential spread of the virus in day-to-day operations.

Wind and solar developer Geronimo Energy has not seen significant procurement delays for its Michigan solar projects under development, Geronimo Energy developer Kara Bakke said. Although the virus has caused less available manpower at construction sites due to the need to limit crew sizes, the company’s projects are still on track, she said.

Energy Sciences, an energy waste reduction company serving commercial and industrial businesses and municipal clients, does hands-on work and so has lost progress on several projects due to the shutdown order. But that doesn’t mean opportunities have dried up – there is work on unoccupied buildings, and Energy Sciences is also planning for new work in response to the pandemic, such as more customer interest in projects like retro-commissioning, ventilation airflow rate adjustments and enhanced air filtration, Pouncy said.

Meanwhile the market for electric vehicles (EVs) is experiencing one of the biggest changes in demand with low gas prices making the economics of EVs tougher, at least in the short-term. Utilities, municipalities and regulators will need to reassess how incentives for EV charging are designed in order to “respond to economic conditions of today as opposed to an idealized future of what the charging market could look like,” Annie Gilleo, manager of policy and market development at Greenlots, which makes software for managing EV charging, said. That reassessment could include focusing on the long-term gains from EVs, rather than immediate returns. 

Michigan Energy News

  • The pandemic is not distracting from the need to shift from coal to renewables, MPSC Commissioner Sally Talberg says.
  • DTE will reduce air pollution from several coal-fired power plants as part of a proposed settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • The refueling of DTE’s Fermi 2 nuclear plant is being delayed by coronavirus cases.
  • The federal government grants Michigan an additional $35 million in funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program to help households pay energy bills.
  • The MPSC approves Consumers Energy’s request to delay the implementation of the utility’s summertime peak use rates because people are spending more time at home.
  • Consumers Energy is giving away free Google Nest thermostats to up to 100,000 customers.
  • General Motors says it is close to developing an EV battery that can last one million miles.

National Energy News

  • Despite a short-term decline due to the coronavirus, corporate buyer demand for clean energy procurement is expected to show growth in the long-term.
  • new report from the International Energy agency finds that the global renewable energy industry will begin growing again in 2021.
  • The number of large battery systems co-located with wind or solar projects has increased from 19 sites in 2016 to 53 sites in 2019, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
  • The plunge in gas prices is creating a more difficult environment for EV sales.
  • Ameren Missouri ties a portion of executive compensation to progress increasing storage and renewable generation.
  • A Kansas City suburb requires new residential and commercial construction to be built with a roof that can accommodate a solar array.
  • The University of California system sells over $1 billion in assets to divest its investment portfolio from fossil fuels.

Online Resources

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.

The National Regulatory Research Institute has a three-part webinar series on “The Impact of COVID-19 on Utility Rate Making.”

The Michigan Energy Providers Conference is switching to a virtual format and will occur on July 30.

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

 On June 2 the Institute for Energy Innovation is holding a Virtual Energy 101 Zoom meeting on mobility for Michigan EIBC members, Michigan legislators and legislative staff. 

The Southeast Michigan PACE Summit in Ann Arbor, hosted by Michigan EIBC member Lean & Green Michigan, has been postponed from its previous April 15 date.

PlugVolt’s next Battery Seminar has been postponed from the previous dates of July 21-23 to October 6-8 in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. 

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, has been rescheduled to June 15-17 as a 3D Virtual Event.  


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 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.