Over 100 solar advocates were in Lansing on Feb. 19 to meet with legislators about the DTE proposed distributed generation tariff and pending legislation to exempt residential solar systems from property taxes. Sponsored by GLREA, Vote Solar, Sierra Club, and Michigan Interfaith Power & Light, the event was a great opportunity to meet with state legislators (many are new) and inform them about the many benefits of solar energy. More details and video.
Gov. Whitmer announced that the Dept. of Environmental Quality will be reorganized and renamed the Dept. of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). . Former Michigan EIBC president Liesl Clark will lead the new department. The new department will include the functions of the Michigan Agency for Energy under the new Office on Climate and Energy. Whitmer also announced that Michigan will join the U.S. Climate Alliance, an alliance of 20 states. The Executive Order eliminated two legislatively created oversight panels, Environmental Rules Review Committee and Environmental Permit Review Commission, and consequently the Republican majority in both the House and Senate rejected the executive order. Whitmer then signed a new version of her executive order keeping the two panels.
Prickly Pear Sanctuary project in Fennville has received the nation’s first GreenStar “Platinum + Zero Energy” certification through the GreenHome Institute. Key features of the project include: HERS score of 0 (100% more efficient that a code-built home), ZeroStep/Lifetime Design, 7.67 kW PV, passive solar design, triple pane, tilt-and-turn windows from Wasco, Insulating Concrete Form (ICF) walls, and ultra-efficient air to water heat pump by Chiltrix that provides radiant heat and mini-split cooling.
Dan Scripps has been appointed by Gov. Whitmer to the Michigan Public Service Commission. Dan Scripps, a former state representative, currently serves as the Midwest policy program director for Energy Foundation. Dan will succeed Rachael Eubanks who resigned for a term expiring July 2, 2023 following her appointment as State Treasurer. More details.
Report on the Implementation and Cost-Effectiveness of the P.A. 295 Renewable Energy Standard indicates that wind projects generated 69% of the approximately 3000 MW of renewable energy capacity in 2018. Hydro generated 12%; biomass, 7%; landfill gas, 5%; solar 4%: and municipal solid waste, 3%. There are 25 utility-scale wind projects in Michigan, generating 1,925 MW. Four more totaling more than 555 MW are planned. Since PA 295 passed in 2008, $3.4 billion has been invested to develop more than 1700 MW of renewable energy projects. The average price of renewable energy contracts is $68.27 per MWH.
MSU Research Report indicates that most Michigan residents support a shift from coal-fired electricity to cleaner energy. The study was undertaken by researchers Sharlissa Moore, Ph.D., assistant professor at MSU’s James Madison College and College of Engineering and Annick Anctil, assistant professor in MSU’s College of Engineering. Eighty-six percent and 90% of respondents think Michigan should use more wind and solar, respectively, in place of fossil fuels. More details.
Federal Tax Reforms is making it possible for a solar energy developer to pursue solar projects and job training in low-income communities. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 created Opportunity Zones that allow investors to defer taxes on capital gains. Rob Rafson, founder of Muskegon-based Chart House Energy, says he has multiple projects lined up in these zones over the next two years. A key component is job training for residents in low-income communities. Chart House recently completed solar projects in Ypsilanti and Detroit with others planned in Flint, Muskegon Heights and Muskegon. More details
DTE’s Revised Voluntary Green Pricing Program, which allows residential and small commercial customers to designate how much of their electricity will come from renewable sources, has been approved by the MPSC. In October 2018, the MPSC ordered DTE Electric to make changes to the program because of concerns about cost, pricing transparency, customer options, enrollment cap, and lack of expansion plans. Under the revised program, customers will pay a subscription fee of 7.2 cents/kWh. Those who want to exclusively use wind will pay a subscription fee of 5.2 cents/kWh. The net cost after a credit is applied will be 2.3 cents per kWh for the wind-only option and 3.3 cents per kWh for the blended option. Case No. U-18352
Michigan Energy Office (MEO) is offering a $400 discount for public and non-profit building operators who attend building operator certification (BOC) classes this year. The classes help building operators achieve more energy savings. The BOC Level 1 class will be held in Kalamazoo starting in March, Flint starting in May, and Escanaba starting in July. Register here for the courses. The BOC Level 2 class will be held starting in September in Okemos. Register here by clicking on the Level 2 tab. Individuals interested in the MEO discount and other discounts should email firstname.lastname@example.org
Consumers Energy’s Third Solar Garden will be in Cadillac. The Cadillac City Council has agreed to allow Consumers Energy to place solar panels on the Mitchell-Bentley property, a currently vacant site with a manufacturing history that dates to the late 1800s. The 500 kW project could be operating before the summer of 2020. Consumers’ two existing community solar projects are at Grand Valley State and WMU. www.ConsumersEnergy.com/solargardens.
Polish Physicist and Businesswoman Olga Malinkiewicz has developed a novel inkjet processing method for perovskites that makes it possible to produce solar panels under lower temperatures, thus sharply reducing costs. Solar panels coated with the mineral are light, flexible, efficient, inexpensive and come in varying hues and degrees of transparency and can easily be fixed to almost any surface. The company is building a production line with a capacity that will reach 40,000 square meters of panels by the end of the year and 180,000 square meters the following year. The Swedish construction group Skanska is testing the panels on the facade of one of its buildings in Warsaw. More detailsShort video.
Sunrun has successfully bid 20 MW of home-based solar and battery storage as energy capacity for the New England regional grid. The company uses a centralized system to manage the batteries being used in homes and businesses in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. At times of high electricity demand, Sunrun can draw power from those batteries for use by the grid. More details
Insolight, a spin-off from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, has been working on high-efficiency cells that are laid down on a grid. Above that is placed a honeycomb-like lens array that takes light and bends it into a narrow beam concentrated only on the tiny cells. As the sun moves, the cell layer moves ever so slightly, keeping the beams on target. Insolight has achieved 37% efficiency in tests and 30% in consumer-oriented designs. More details
Hawaii is the first state to begin a proceeding to create a tariff to pay microgrid owners and improve the interconnection process. Opening briefs were filed this month before the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (Docket No. 2018-0163). The utility HECO wants regulators to focus on microgrid benefits that are not otherwise compensated, particularly resiliency and reliability. Anyone could own and operate a microgrid under HECO’s proposal. HECO says microgrids should use all renewable energy, except in emergencies, in keeping with Hawaii’s goal to achieve 100% renewables by 2045. More details
Farmers & Landowners are being contacted by developers looking to secure land for solar energy projects. To help farmers and landowners understand the renewable energy landscape, nuances of solar leases, zoning considerations, and accompanying tax implications, MSU Extension, Michigan Farm Bureau and Michigan Energy Office are hosting workshops: March 14 in West Branch, March 19 in West Olive, March 28 in St. Johns, and April 10 in Chatham. All programs run from 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. To register or for further information, https://events.anr.msu.edu/shining/.
Carbon Fee and Dividend presentation will be made at the Okemos Library, 4321 Okemos Rd. on Tuesday, April 9, 7:00-8:00 pm. Carolyn Randall, Citizens Climate Lobby, will describe a carbon fee and dividend approach to mitigating climate change. She will talk about recent federal legislation that has been introduced and how you can help. Open to the public.
Michigan Geothermal Energy Assoc. 2019 Annual Conference will be held at the Lansing Brewing Company on April 27, 11:00 am-4:00 pm. The annual conference will include presentations on Michigan Saves, geothermal and solar, and the energy efficiency programs of MECA. Contact Larry Kaufman email@example.com for additional information. $25 registration fee includes lunch.
2019 Michigan Clean Energy Conference, the third annual conference sponsored by Groundwork, will be held onMay 21–23 at the Haggerty Center in Traverse City. In addition to a VIP reception on May 21, there will be two full days of sessions, and the evening keynote speaker will be Patti Poppe, CEO of Consumers Energy. Save the date. More details.
SOLAR 2019 Conference “Race to Renewables” will be held on August 5-9 in Minneapolis. ASES believes that supplying 100% of America’s electricity with renewable energy is not only possible but urgently needed. ASES represents the scientists, educators, and activists who can provide technologies and solutions for climate action that will have an impact within the next five years. SOLAR 2019 will focus on those strategies.
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