This Week in Advanced Energy News: More DG Cap Developments, Energy Storage Value Streams

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:

Pro-Rooftop Solar Lawmakers Say Eliminating the DG Cap Is A Must

 The sponsors of legislation to eliminate the cap on distributed generation held a press conference on May 11 with representatives of Michigan EIBC and allies in the effort to allow the rooftop solar industry to continue to thrive and grow. 

They made clear that a proposal from DTE and Consumers Energy to raise but not eliminate the cap is not good enough. The bill, HB 4236, has enough support in the legislature to move forward, and sponsors Reps. Greg Markkanen and Yousef Rabhi called for its passage. 

“My constituents want solar energy so they can take control of their energy prices and afford to live and work in the U.P,” Rep. Markkanen said. “If DTE and Consumers Energy are ‘all-in’ for rooftop solar as they claim and their biggest alleged concern is about a subsidy that no longer exists, I say: Let’s stop the smokescreen and get to work.”

Rep. Rabhi said that the bill would lead to “a healthier and more prosperous state as renewable energy lowers costs and provides good jobs,” as reported by the Gongwer news service.

The legislators were joined at the press conference by Michigan EIBC VP of Policy Cory Connolly, Ben Schimpf of Michigan EIBC member Peninsula Solar, Jeremy Orr of the Michigan NAACP and Ed Rivet of the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum.

Although a hearing was originally scheduled on HB 4236 for Thursday, May 13, it was cancelled as negotiations continue. 


Energy Storage Must Be Able To Tap All Its Value Streams, Michigan EIBC Says to MPSC

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has taken a number of steps to integrate energy storage into the grid so that it can fairly compete with other resources. But many of the details of exactly how that integration will play out depends upon state-level decisions. That is why Michigan EIBC, along with Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) and Advanced Energy Management Alliance (AEMA), recently submitted comments to the MPSC regarding FERC’s Order 841, which opens up wholesale electricity markets to storage.

The MPSC had requested that stakeholders submit comments about the degree to which energy storage should be able to provide both retail and wholesale services. In recent decisions upholding FERC Order 841, federal courts had ruled that states retain the authority to prevent energy storage resources that participate in wholesale markets from also participating in retail markets.

But to do that would be a mistake that would hold back the full potential of energy storage, Michigan EIBC, AEE and AEMA argued in the comments. “The key to unlocking the full value of energy storage is allowing a resource to be accurately compensated for all of the services it provides,” they said. Some of those services are only recognized in wholesale markets, like frequency regulation, while others, like achieving lower electricity costs by arbitraging time-of-use rate opportunities, will be more relevant for other uses.

Not allowing storage to participate in both types of services “would strongly advantage utility-built and/or utility-owned storage projects as those are the most likely to have access to the retail market and access to information necessary to develop these projects,” the comments said. “Thus, the prohibition would likely decrease the economic value of storage given that customers benefit from each service that storage provides more efficiently or at a lower cost.” Not only would customers lose out, but the ability of storage to fulfill Michigan’s emissions reduction goals would also be impeded.

Check out this article from Utility Dive that covers the debate over the role of storage and cites our comments. 

MISO Plans for Transmission Lines Invite Cautious Optimism Among Renewables Developers

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), which runs the wholesale electricity markets for much of the central U.S. and Canada, including Michigan, has released new indicative plans for a regional transmission infrastructure buildout that are giving renewable energy developers hope that grid congestion that blocks their projects can be alleviated.

MISO’s 20-year transmission road map considers what new lines will be needed for states and utilities across the region to meet their goals for emissions reductions. That “approach is a departure from how most new transmission projects within MISO are planned,” according to a report from E&E News. The lack of a regional view in MISO’s previous planning has been criticized for causing the approval of transmission line projects to be too localized, which is inadequate for planning the additional transmission capacity needed to make large-scale renewable energy development possible. As a result, dozens of proposed renewable energy projects in the MISO region have been canceled due to inadequate transmission capacity. 

“We have to build out the transmission system to realize the future that is in front of us,” said Nicole Luckey, vice president of regulatory affairs for Michigan EIBC member Invenergy, said in the E&E story.

“I think we’re hopeful it will result in real lines,” Clean Grid Alliance Executive Director Beth Soholt said of the MISO plan. Combined with other developments, like the U.S. Department of Energy making $8.25 billion in loan guarantees available for transmission projects, there is reason to be cautiously optimistic about transmission infrastructure in Michigan and neighboring states.  

Michigan Energy News

  • The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy provides “Charge Up” grants to add 88 fast-charging EV outlets along key travel routes.
  • The unveiling of the electric Ford F-150 is planned for May 19, and President Biden will be in attendance for the announcement event in Dearborn.
  • Michigan EIBC member Harvest Solar will install solar arrays at three Jackson Public Schools elementary schools under a 20-year agreement.
  • The debate over the Line 5 pipeline heats up as Enbridge ignores an order to stop pumping oil through the line.
  • Michigan was spared shortages of gasoline despite the cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline.

National Energy News

  • The federal approval of the $2 billion, 800-MW, 84-turbine Vineyard Wind offshore wind project “is an important step toward advancing the administration’s goals to create good-paying union jobs while combating climate change and powering our nation,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland says.
  • The approval of Vineyard Wind is giving a boost of confidence to other offshore wind developers.
  • For the first time in almost 30 years, the city of Chicago is evaluating whether it should switch its electric utility franchise away from Commonwealth Edison.
  • Xcel Energy has approval to launch a microgrid pilot program for customers in Wisconsin.
  • Ore.-based flow battery manufacturer ESS Inc. is going public through a special purpose acquisition company merger.

Michigan and National Energy Events

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 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.    


Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) is seeking applicants for the 1 Hotels Fellowship, due by May 15. E2 says: “the 1 Hotels Fellowship at E2 is designed to support early to mid-career businesspeople who seek to tackle pressing environmental issues through projects that are good for the economy and good for the environment. Six selected fellows will receive $20,000 each and work with E2 staff to implement their projects for the 2021-2022 program cycle.” Learn more here.
 Centrepolis is launching its new C3 Accelerator, funded in part by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, New Economy Initiative and the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator.  The accelerator will offer a total pool of $275,000 in funding including grants, equity-free interest-free investments, and services to support product development and scaling of cleantech, climatech, and circular economy technologies. A portion of these investments will be dedicated to support ventures led by women, people of color, veterans and other underrepresented entrepreneurs. Applications are due May 31, and can be submitted through this link.  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.