Utility Regulation During the Pandemic, April Jobs Report

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 Submits Comments On Utility Regulation During the Pandemic

In new comments filed with the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), Michigan EIBC and Advanced Energy Economy Institute (AEE Institute) call upon state regulators to increase flexibility in order to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic while keeping Michigan on the path to more and more efficient use of energy and better management of the electric grid. The comments come in a docket the MPSC opened to get input from stakeholders on how to manage the disruptive effects of the pandemic. Michigan EIBC and AEE Institute are pleased to see the MPSC recognize the importance of maintaining the state’s energy waste reduction (EWR) targets to the greatest extent possible with social distancing. The comments encourage Michigan’s utilities to “consider increasing incentives for EWR projects that can be done safely without unnecessary human interactions and significant PPE costs (e.g., exterior work, upgrades in common areas of multi-family housing, virtual residential self-installations, etc.).”

Similarly, “while it is currently more difficult to conduct some residential EWR upgrades, there are opportunities to conduct work in currently shuttered commercial, municipal, and school buildings,” the comments said. We suggest that spending could be increased for work in these areas as well as for those residential projects that involve lower risk. 

Our comments also look at the broader picture of the MI Power Grid initiative that aims to bring Michigan’s grid into the 21st century. We call for the MPSC to not lose sight of progress on MI Power Grid amidst the pandemic because many aspects of the initiative could be especially helpful at this time. For example, new earnings structures to encourage utilities to embrace distributed energy resources and properly structured competitive bidding rules, can help increase flexibility and lower costs in the face of uncertain energy demand. 

April Jobs Data for Advanced Energy Sectors Is In

Nearly 450,000 U.S. “clean energy” workers filed for unemployment claims in April, up from about 150,000 in March, according to an analysis released by E2, the same organization that releases the Clean Jobs America report, E4TheFuture and the American Council on Renewable Energy.

Michigan accounted for over 22,000 of those unemployment claims in April. Combined with data from March, Michigan has had over 30,000 clean energy workers file for unemployment in those two months, the third-highest of the 50 states following California and Texas. The analysis uses “clean energy” to refer to the energy efficiency, renewables, advanced transportation, grid & storage and alternative fuels industries.

These stark numbers show the urgent need for policymakers to start taking action that will mitigate these job losses and set the advanced energy industry on the path to growth again. Michigan EIBC outlined some policies that would help in our recent memo about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Next “Bring Your Own Lunch (& Learn)” About Utility Regulation and COVID-19

The next entry in Michigan EIBC’s new webinar series is on May 22. Greg White, executive director of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, will speak on how COVID-19 is reshaping the regulation of utilities and the way utilities operate.

These events are for Michigan EIBC members only (sign up to join today!) Michigan EIBC members will receive calendar invites with Zoom conference line information. 

New Members

Aisin Technical Center of America
Aisin, is a Japanese corporation that develops and produces components and systems for the automotive industry. Aisin is a Fortune Global 500 company, ranked 329 on the 2018 rankings. Aisin is 51% owned by the Toyota Group of companies.
Aisin Seiki was founded in 1949 and supplies engine, drivetrain, body and chassis, aftermarket, and other main automotive parts for various major OEMs. In addition to partaking in the automotive markets, Aisin also offers life and amenity products, energy systems, welfare products, and other products/services.

Since 1985, SunPower has been leading global solar innovation. SunPower solar panels consistently deliver more energy and long-term peace of mind with the highest performing solar power systems available. SunPower is the solar energy choice of more homeowners and businesses around the world.

White Pine Development
White Pine is a full-service solar developer that finances, builds, owns and operates solar projects and provides solar consulting services.
White Pine serves public entities, businesses and landowners. Our clients want to positively impact their financial position while participating in the solar evolution.

Renewing Member

NextEra Energy Resources
NextEra Energy Resources, LLC (together with its affiliated entities, “NextEra Energy Resources”), is a clean energy leader and is one of the largest wholesale generators of electric power in the U.S., with approximately 21,000 megawatts of net generating capacity, primarily in 36 states and Canada as of year-end 2018. NextEra Energy Resources, together with its affiliated entities, is the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and sun and a world leader in battery storage. The business operates clean, emissions-free nuclear power generation facilities in New Hampshire, Iowa and Wisconsin as part of the NextEra Energy nuclear fleet, which is one of the largest in the United States. NextEra Energy Resources, LLC is a subsidiary of Juno Beach, Florida-based NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NEE). For more information, visitwww.NextEraEnergyResources.com

Michigan Energy News

  • The MPSC approves a $188 million rate increase for DTE customers, down from the $351 million the utility originally requested.
  • Consumers Energy receives a $10,000 fine for the January 2019 fire at a natural gas storage and delivery facility that led to a statewide emergency.
  • MiBiz talks to Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman about our recent recommendations to restore growth to advanced energy in Michigan.
  • Changes to Environmental Protection Agency regulations could hurt the ability for Michigan residents to enjoy the Great Lakes, Howard Learner of the Environmental Policy & Law Center writes in mLive.
  • An Ann Arbor house demonstrates the latest in energy-efficient building techniques.

National Energy News

  • New York City’s natural gas/oil-burning peaking plants can and should be replaced by distributed energy resources and energy storage, according to a new report.
  • Duke Energy says it is sticking to plans to double its renewable capacity by 2025.
  • The Gemini project in Nevada, which, at 690 MW would be the largest solar project in the U.S., receives approval from the Interior Department.
  • Could COVID-19 spark a global renewable energy boom?
  • Falling electricity demand is speeding up the grid’s reliance on renewable energy.
  • The air quality improvements that have come with the pandemic have similarities to what would happen if electric vehicles were to become the standard, according to findings from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  • EV startups could have a moment with the disruption of the automotive industry.

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 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

The Mid-America Regulatory Conference, an association of regional organizations of utility and regulatory agencies from 14 states, is holding its annual meeting in Grand Rapids on June 21-24

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 in Minneapolis, has been postponed.  


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 2030districts.org/Detroit 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.