This Week in Advanced Energy News: Gala in September, Storage Convening Recap, C-PACE Hearing

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:

Join Us In-Person for the 9th Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala Sept. 14

 We’re excited to network in-person and celebrate individuals and businesses who have worked to grow Michigan’s advanced energy sector in 2021. Advanced energy business leaders & experts, legislators, regulators, state government officials, and other key decision-makers will be in attendance. Join the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council as we celebrate on September 14th, 2021 at The Eastern, Detroit, Mich. 

Keynote speaker and additional details/ticket sales to come in the following weeks.  

Annual awards will be presented at the Innovators Gala. We invite Michigan EIBC members to submit nominations, via link here, for the following categories:

Project of the Year
Business of the Year
Public Official of the Year
Energy Innovators Hall of Fame

Nominations close the end of business on Wednesday, July 7th, 2021.

We also invite you to become a sponsor of this premier annual event. Sponsors will benefit from networking with a broad range of industry leaders from renewable energy, energy efficiency, transportation, and the utility sector. Sponsorship opportunities and benefits can be found here

Please contact Brianna Gerard, Director of Membership & Events, to reserve your sponsorship spot:

Alliant Energy’s battery project in Wellman, Ia. Source: Alliant Energy

Energy Storage Convening Examines The On-The-Ground Experience of Developing Projects

 Michigan EIBC’s latest Energy Storage Convening examined the practical experiences of different storage developers and utilities focused on distribution- and transmission-connected storage. Distribution and transmission applications of storage are opportunities project developers are seizing right now. The question is: What can regulators and policymakers do to ensure that the markets and rules are empowering storage to grow as fast as we need it to to enable the grid of the future?

The “clean energy grid is the future, and storage is the enabler, ” Commissioner Katherine Peretick of the Michigan Public Service Commission said as part of the kickoff of the convening. To be able to deliver that future, however, storage needs to start growing right now, and fast. During the convening’s panel of storage developers, panelist Rachel Goldwasser of Key Capture Energy cited a Brattle Group study that found that about 15% to 20% storage grid penetration rates are needed to get to an 80% renewable grid. “We have to get started now so we are where we want to be in 15 years,” she said.

Alliant Energy, a utility serving primarily rural areas in Iowa and Wisconsin, has already gotten started and is gaining experience with its initial storage projects to potentially build more later, as described by Sarah Martz, manager, distribution engineering for Alliant, in a presentation at the convening. The utility has been looking at storage to “provide more resiliency for those rural communities in our service territory.” That includes using Advanced Distribution Management Solutions (ADMS) software to monitor two-way transactions on the grid and launching a battery storage pilot in Decorah, IA, that has allowed Alliant to learn about scoping, sizing, siting and maintenance for storage projects.

Already, the pricing and value of storage has progressed to the point where the marketplace is “beyond what is required for a pilot,” panelist Chris Moore of Michigan EIBC member Circle Power said. 

Instead of more pilot programs, regulators need to set clear rules to encourage storage projects that want to compete in the marketplace, the panelists said. One of the most helpful regulatory changes would be a clarification of the ownership structure for storage projects, Andy Holst of Michigan EIBC member Jupiter Power said. “Targeting a split of independent ownership as well as utility ownership would bring the most value to the state and would bring different parties that are interested in the state and different ownership structures into the state.”

Regulators and utilities also need to consider storage technologies that differ from the lithium-ion battery technology that has become the most dominant form of storage. Jason Houck of Form Energy spoke on the panel about his company’s efforts to launch storage projects using an aqueous, air-breathing battery technology that is meant to provide long-duration, 100-hour storage. Storage of that duration is needed to backup renewable energy over multi-day extreme weather events, but long-duration storage breaks the mold of how most players look at the grid, Houck said. “Today the grid is planned around single-day peaks or net peaks. But really the reliability challenges we will face will accrue over multiple days,” he said.


C-PACE Bills Get House Energy Committee Hearing

The legislation to expand and improve Michigan’s commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy financing (C-PACE) statute quickly moved to a hearing before the Michigan House Energy Committee on June 17. Bill sponsors Reps. Yousef Rabhi and Felicia Brabec, Michigan EIBC member Lean & Green Michigan President and General Counsel Todd Williams, Michigan EIBC member PACE Loan Group Chief Operating Officer Bali Kumar and Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman all spoke at the hearing to make the case for the bills, HB 5011 and HB 5012Gongwer also published a summary of the hearing.

“Banks don’t provide up to 25-year fixed-interest financing for commercial properties. They often provide 3-year, 5-year, 7-year,” Kumar explained to the committee. C-PACE financing unlocks those longer terms, allowing additional efficiency projects to get financed. “Businesses can find it difficult to come up with upfront money. These can be very big projects,” Brabec said.

Despite the fact that Michigan’s C-PACE statute is “one of the most restrictive in the nation,” the growth of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects financed with the help of C-PACE has been strong, Williams said. But changes are necessary to get to the next level. “We are truly at an inflection point of PACE in Michigan. We’ve built a vibrant and growing C-PACE market with steady growth and footprint of PACE spreading across MIchigan. Each successful project begets more successful projects,” Williams said.

HB 5011 would build on this success by expanding the types of projects that could qualify for C-PACE. For example, it would allow C-PACE financing to be used for projects that involve environmental hazards, including the mitigation of lead, heavy metals and PFAS contamination in water systems or the mitigation of effects of flood or drought, as Rep. Rabhi explained in testimony. The need for that kind of environmental hazard work sometimes arises in efficiency projects like rehabbing aging buildings, and the bill would make it easier for that work to get financing.

Meanwhile, HB 5012 would allow borrowers renovating existing buildings for energy savings to waive the required savings-to-investment ratio guarantee. This will enable C-PACE financing to be used for a wider variety of energy savings projects. The bill also allows new construction projects that produce energy savings to qualify for C-PACE financing as long as the projects exceed current building codes.  

Renewing Members

5 Lakes Energy

5 Lakes Energy is a Michigan-based policy consulting firm dedicated to advancing policies and programs that promote clean energy, sustainability and the environment.

NOVI Energy
 NOVI Energy is an energy consulting and energy infrastructure project development company established in 2002. They support utility, industrial, commercial, institutional, and governmental customers in the development and implementation of their short and long-term energy strategies. Their professionals have extensive knowledge in all areas of the energy value chain from production to consumption, and functional expertise in engineering, fuel, power, energy management, finance, and risk management.
NOVI has substantial experience in conceptualizing, designing, and managing all aspects of construction through achieving commercial operations, asset management, and ownership of small to large scale power generation facilities using renewable, conventional, and other innovative technologies. They have provided a full range of power project development services, conducted feasibility analyses for their clients and themselves worldwide, and evaluated energy systems that use a range of fuel sources and technologies including solar, energy storage, wind, high-efficiency combined heat and power (CHP) facilities, natural gas-fueled simple and combined cycle turbines, biomass, biogas, and run-of-river hydro. NOVI’s current development portfolio of more than a billion dollars, includes large energy storage systems, utility scale solar PV systems including systems with battery-based energy storage, and natural gas fired combined-cycle and high efficiency CHP facilities. Their experience in the energy industry includes fuel sourcing, site acquisition, design, financing, permitting, construction, and operations of energy facilities.
NOVI Energy has well over 100 years of collective experience in development, design, construction, and ownership of small to large-scale power and energy generation facilities utilizing both conventional and renewable fuel technologies.

The Green Panel

Incorporated on June 12, 2007 The Green Panel, Inc. is a Michigan-based turnkey solar PV company that Engineers, Furnishes, and Installs (EF&I) solar photovoltaic systems. Our goal is to build long-lasting relationships with our customers, exceeding their expectations. The Green Panel often finds itself as an educator through the engineering, furnishing, and installing process because of our 12+ year history in the renewable energy market. We have serviced residential, commercial, industrial and educational entities throughout the State of Michigan, with offices in Brighton/Grand Rapids and a warehouse in Brighton. Our installers are all W-2 employees and we have our own fleet of trucks/trailers.

Michigan Energy News

  • General Motors announces two new battery cell manufacturing plants in the U.S. by the middle of the decade.
  • MiBiz covers the Michigan EIBC-supported C-PACE legislation—House Bill 5011 sponsored by Rep. Yousef Rabhi and House Bill 5012 sponsored by Rep. Felicia Brabec—and talks to other supporters like the Michigan League of Conservation Voters.
  • The Michigan Environmental Council explains how Consumers Energy’s new standard rate for residential customers can promote cleaner energy and lower customer bills with its summer peak rate.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announces that Jackson has more ENERGY STAR-certified buildings than any other small city in the country.
  • Michigan is the 24th-fastest warming state, according to an analysis of climate data.

National Energy News

  • California utilities are pushing back against a proposed regulatory requirement that they procure fossil fuel-burning power for grid reliability, arguing that such resources would expose them to additional costs as greenhouse gas regulation increases.
  • Sweeping energy legislation in Illinois is being held up by opposition to provisions to close fossil fuel power plants.
  • The Las Vegas Strip’s first new resort in over a decade strikes a unique deal with its utility to buy market-based renewable energy.
  • GE works with European companies to improve its practices on wind turbine recycling.
  • Ohio legislators vote to expel the representative who was indicted on federal charges related to the FirstEnergy bribery scandal.

Michigan and National Energy Events

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 9th Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala is in Detroit on Sept. 14Nominate Michigan EIBC members for awards and explore sponsorship opportunities.

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 Lansing Board of Water and Light will issue a Request for Information for electricity storage by the end of September. Vendors can register here.

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.