Great Lakes Energy News

March 2018


Michigan Solar Users Network (MISUN), an informal network of solar owners and supporters, shares information with MISUN Weekly updates and a Facebook page (  Personal experiences and policy developments are shared and future solar owners can ask questions.  Have a solar home for sale (like Dave Konkle, you can spread the word.  Contact to join and I’ll send you a “Love My Solar” bumper sticker.
Michigan News
Clean Energy, Healthy Michigan has launched a petition drive for a statutory initiative to increase the % of electricity from renewable energy sources. Michigan electric providers would be required to produce at least 30% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030 under a ballot proposal organizers hope to put before voters in November. The ballot committee intends to use a combination of paid and volunteer circulators to collect at least 252,523 valid signatures within a 180-day window, according to John Freeman, campaign organizer. More details.
Report on the MPSC Staff Study to Develop a Cost of Service-Based Distributed Generation Program Tariff has been filed by MPSC staff in the DG docket: U-18383.  The report recommends an “Inflow/Outflow” tariff. Under the proposed tariff, distributed generation customers pay for all “Inflow” at their regular retail rate.  “Outflow” kWh’s receive a bill credit. The staff report recommends a new contested proceeding to set a uniform outflow compensation method.  A Commission order finds the report to be comprehensive. However, the Commission is requesting comments on several key issues no later than March 12.  
Michigan Tax Commission made a decision at their Feb. 13 meeting on whether residential PV systems should be considered “personal property”, e.g. manufacturing equipment, or “real property”, e.g. a house. Michigan Agency for Energy (MAE) and MPSC had released a consumer tip explaining that a tax exemption for industrial personal property might apply to PV systems used by homeowners.  The Michigan Tax Commission has determined that solar panels on a parcel classified as residential real property shall be assessed as a component of the real property.
Consumers Energy will phase out electricity production from coal by 2040 and reduce its carbon emissions by 80%.  The utility plans to generate 40% of its power from renewable sources by then and will also rely on natural gas, hydropower and improved efficiency. Consumers will file a plan by June with the MPSC with a detailed timetable for phasing out coal. Consumers also announced a five-year plan for reducing its environmental footprint that includes saving 1 billion gallons of water, reducing waste sent to landfills by 35% and restoring or improving 5,000 acres of land.  More details.
Recent Poll conducted for Vote Solar found that more than 80% of Michigan voters favor increasing the state’s use of solar energy.  The poll found that in Michigan 66% of Republicans, 78% of independents and 95% of Democrats want more solar energy. More details.
Gov. Rick Snyder has received a Leadership award from the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance for his efforts to reduce energy waste. Louis James, president and CEO of Solutions for Energy Efficient Logistics, also won a Leadership award and the National Energy Foundation’s Michigan office won an Education award. More details.
Annual Energy Waste Reduction (EWR) Report for 2016 has been released by the MPSC.  Michigan utilities acheived 128% of their electric savings targets and 125% of their natural gas savings targets. Sixty-four utility providers spent $263 million on programs which have a lifetime savings of more than $1 billion.  Every $1 spent on programs results in $4.29 in savings. EWR resources cost $16.07 per MWH compared to $55 per MWH at a new natural gas combined cycle plant.
Renewable Energy Standard report released by the MPSC shows that wind energy continues to be the primary source of new renewable energy in Michigan.  At the end of 2017, there were 1,925 MW of utility scale wind projects operating. Two wind farms (235 MW) are expected to begin operating in the next several years.  Wind accounts for 69% of renewable energy capacity, hydroelectric 13%, biomass 7%, landfill gas 5%, and solar and municipal solid waste both at 3%.  The alternative energy sector accounted for 9,100 jobs in Michigan and there has been $3.3 billion invested since 2008. The average cost for renewable energy contracts is $72.60 per MWH, lower than the $133 per MWH for coal.
Solar Zoning, Siting, and Leasing will be the focus of  workshops that will be held by MSU Extension & Michigan Farm Bureau this month: Mar 7 in Powers, Mar 8 in Traverse City, Mar 13 in Big Rapids, Mar 14 in Frankenmuth, Mar 15 in Tecumseh, Mar 21 in Ionia, and Mar 22 in Three Rivers.  The workshops will cover the renewable energy landscape, solar leases, zoning considerations and tax implications. All programs run from 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m., except Tecumseh which begins at 10:30 a.m. More details.
Governor’s Energy Excellence Award nominations are now being accepted. The awards celebrate achievements by people and organizations that have taken actions to stop energy waste.  Nominations can be submitted at through March 31 with winners to be announced at a fall celebration.
My Green Schools Art Contest sponsored by USGBC Detroit Region invites students to use art to demonstrate ways in which their school could be made more green.  Students in grades K-5 are invited to submit art by March 31. The top three winners from each grade will be honored at the Michigan Earth Day Fest.  More details.
Beyond Michigan
Latest Solar Jobs Census found that 250,271 Americans worked in solar in 2017.  This is a 3.8% decline from the previous year making it the first time that jobs have decreased since the first Solar Jobs Census in 2010. Michigan had no real change, 4,118 jobs in 2016 and 4,134 jobs in 2017.  The long-term trend shows significant growth.  The solar workforce increased by 168% from 93,000 jobs in 2010 to over 250,000 jobs in 2017.  More details.
Ra Power Pro supplied solar panels to help keep the carts and TV cameras running at the Honda Classic (see photo above).  The portable panels’ technology was originally developed for troops in the desert.  Now, the company’s lightweight solar panels are powering golf carts all over the country.  The panels generate about 40% of the energy needed for one round of golf in Florida. More details.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has released the New York State Offshore Wind Master Plan to guide development of 2.4 GW of offshore wind by 2030.  Cuomo announced in his State of the State address that New York will issue solicitations in 2018 and in 2019 for a combined total of at least 800 MW of offshore wind power. Offshore wind is a critical part of Cuomo’s mandate to generate 50% of the state’s electricity from renewable energy by 2030.  More details.
Tesla is opening small kiosks inside Home Depot stores in order to pitch its traditional solar panels (not solar tiles) and Powerwall storage.  Some Home Depot stores in Southern California already have the kiosks and all 800 U.S. Home Depot locations should come on line later this year.  More details.
State of South Australia has announced that it will create a network of 1000’s of solar-powered homes using Tesla solar panels and Powerwall batteries. Initial phases are already underway (installation of 5 kW PV and batteries on 1100 public housing properties) and will eventually expand to as many as 50,000 homes creating the world’s largest virtual power plant.  More details.
30 MW Floating Wind Farm in Scottish waters has been put to the test with high winds and strong seas during its first 3 months in service. Hurricane Ophelia in October pummeled the wind farm with 80 mph winds and, two months later, 100 mph winds and 26 foot waves were recorded during Storm Caroline.  More details.
MEECA’s (Michigan Energy Efficiency Contractors Assoc.) 4th Annual Gala and Awards Celebration will be March 6 at the Kellogg Center.
PACE Contractor Training will be on March 6, 8:00-12:00 at Velocity Center in Sterling Heights. Lean & Green Michigan trainings are for contractors, property owners, lenders, real estate developers, and economic developers. Register here.

U.S. Green Building Council's Detroit Chapter will honor the U of M for achieving LEED Gold certification on the new A. Alfred Taubman Wing of the Art & Architecture Building on March 7 from 6-8 pm.  Kevin Marshall, Integrated Design Solutions, will talk and there will be tours of the building addition and a 7 pm networking reception.  This is a free event but registration is required. 
4th Annual Catalyst Conference will be held by the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum on March 19, 8:30-1:30 at the Lansing Radisson.  For more information, contact Register here.
2018 Michigan Energy Summit will be held on April 18 at the JW Marriot in Grand Rapids. The Summit will celebrate the 2017 Michigan Battle of the Buildings ‘biggest losers’ and welcome the new 2018 competitors. This full day event brings building owners & operators from across the state in peer to peer learning on how Michigan companies and institutions are reducing their energy costs. More details.
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