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Great Lakes Energy News

January 2018

About 75 people attended the GLREA Annual Meeting on Dec. 2 at the Lansing Brewing Co. Julie Baldwin, MPSC Renewable Energy Manager, talked about net metering, the development of the new distributed generation tariff, and the recent PURPA avoided cost decision.  The presentation can be found on the GLREA Facebook page. Dave Konkle, President, reviewed the past year’s activities, and John Freeman, Executive Director, talked about plans for 2018.
The Jennifer M. Granholm Leadership Award was presented to Allan O’Shea (see photo above) for his leadership roles in GLREA, AWEA, and the business community.  The Exemplary Project Award was presented to Jim Newman, Newman Consulting Group, to recognize the Whitney PACE Project.   The Business Leadership Award was given to Dave Friedrichs, Homeland Solar, for a variety of community activities to promote sustainability and solar energy.  The GLREA Appreciation Award was presented to Todd O’Grady in recognition of his leadership and service to GLREA.  Todd served as President of GLREA for three years during a major transition.
Four new board members were elected: David Leahy, McNaughton-McKay, Shannon Morrow, SEEL, Thomas J. Reinke, Self Reliant Energy, and John Richter, Institute for Sustainable Energy Education.  One-third of the board is elected each year for 3 year terms.
Videos from the 2017 Michigan Energy Conference & Fair that was held in Traverse City in June are available here.
Michigan News
Michigan Students can find ways to use solar energy in their schools as part of a statewide contest. "My Solar School Contest" is a collaborative project of the Ecology Center and U.S. Green Building Council Detroit Region, in partnership with GLREA, Generation180, EcoWorks and U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan.  The contest involves student teams in grades 6-12 that will conduct a solar feasibility study at their school and create a short video to showcase their vision. Student-led teams will compete for the chance to win cash prizes and technical support.  Professional "solar mentors" will be available to assist student teams. Pre-registration for the contest is open and the deadline is January 19.  The contest deadline is March 30.  More details.
MPSC Staff in accordance with Public Act 341 have undertaken an in-depth study of a new cost-based Distributed Generation (DG) tariff that would eventually replace net metering.  As a result of the study, MPSC Staff is recommending a new approach called the Inflow/Outflow billing mechanism. The billing mechanism will use the retail rate for electric purchases by DG customers (power inflows). Excess generation not used by the customer on-site (power outflows to the grid) will be credited at the PURPA avoided-cost rate established by the MPSC for each regulated utility every two years. The new cost-of-service based DG tariff study must be completed by April 2018 in order to be considered in utility rate cases filed after June 1, 2018.  The new DG tariff will go into effect at the conclusion of each utility’s rate case most likely in 2019.  Net metering customers are grandfathered for 10 years and one can become a net metering customer until the new DG tariff is put in place. A new net metering customer in 2010 would have until 2020 before they had to switch and a new net metering customer in 2018 would have until 2028.  MPSC Staff Draft DG Report is being reviewed by interested parties and can be found on the DG Workgroup website
Net Metering and Solar Program Report has been released by the MPSC. The total capacity of net metering installations was 21,888 kW, an increase of 28% from 2015. In 2016, 2,582 residential, commercial and industrial customers participated in Michigan’s net metering program, up 427 from the previous year. About 2,500 of the net metering customers have projects that are up to 20 kW. The report estimates the amount of solar installed in Michigan by the end of 2017 will be 120 MW, up from 58 MWin 2016.
Ann Arbor Solar Club program is having problems. West Virginia-based Geostellar took down payments from several homeowners months ago for solar arrays that haven't been installed yet. Geostellar says a "cash crunch"  has negatively impacted its ability to fulfill commitments.  Geostellar is a middleman that lined up solar installation work for Oak Electric and other local solar installers via a group-purchase program backed by the City of Ann Arbor.  Jeremy Zinn, project manager at Oak Electric,  has said his company is going to work through the winter to fulfill outstanding commitments made by Geostellar.  More details.
City of Grand Rapids broke ground on $38 million dollar biodigester sludge treatment system that could help the City reach its sustainability goals. Mayor Rosalynn Bliss says the city wants to be using 100 percent renewable energy by 2025.  Environmental Services Manager Mike Lunn says the biodigester will be able to provide new revenue for the city, e.g. phosphorous out of the sludge. More details.
Follow-up Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) conference to address developing pilot programs has been announced by the MPSC.  The public meeting will be in February (no specific date yet) at the Commission’s Lansing offices. For an issue brief on the MPSC and plug-in electric vehicles, click here.
Integrated Resource Plans (IRPs) from Michigan utilities must be filed by April 2019 with the MPSC.  Consumers Energy will file by June 15, 2018 and DTE Electric will file by March 29, 2019.  For an issue brief on IRPs, click here.
Beyond Michigan
Republican Tax Bill largely preserves key tax credits for wind and solar power and electric vehicles, reversing language in earlier versions. The last-minute changes, made as lawmakers reconciled the House and Senate versions of the tax legislation, reflect the growing political clout of the wind and solar industries. Some industry groups said they still had concerns about a technical change in the final bill that could negatively affect a key financing tool used for wind and solar projects.  The final bill makes a major change to energy policy by opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.   More details.
Congressman Tim Walberg (MI 7th District) has introduced HR 4476 to “modernize” PURPA.  It would allow states to waive the “must-purchase” provisions which would release utilities from the federal obligation to purchase electrical production from renewable sources.  It would reduce capacity of facilities subject to the law from 20 MW to 2.5 MW.  More details.
Elon Musk has completed the world’s largest lithium-ion battery in less than 100 days in the southern Australian outback. This was a move to support the local grid to prevent future blackouts. As of December 1, the 129 MWH battery has officially been switched on. This state gets 40 percent of its electricity from wind energy and South Australians have also invested big in rooftop solar.
More details.
California's Utilities are on track to source 50% of their total electricity from renewables by 2020, 10 years ahead of the state's 2030 goal. "We would have never gotten renewable energy prices where they are today without really ambitious public policy. It shows the importance of bold goals," said Gov. Jerry Brown.  More details.
Sierra Club - Huron Valley Group presents Solar Truths, Myths, and Promises on Tuesday, January 16th, 7:30 PM at Matthaei Botanical Gardens 1800 North Dixboro Rd, Ann Arbor.  Craig Toepfer using examples of solar successes from Ann Arbor to Germany will make a compelling case for people, businesses, communities, and institutions to accelerate the transition to a clean energy future.

Agricultural Solar Electric Investment Analysis Webinar sponsored by MSU Extension will be held weekly Jan. 18 to Feb. 22.  Each webinar is 60 minutes and starts at 7:00 p.m.  This six part webinar series will provide practical guidance to farmers who are considering a solar electric system. While the target audience is farmers the information will apply to anyone considering PV. https://events.anr.msu.edu/SolarAnalysisWebinar/.
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