MPSC Commissioner Dan Scripps to Keynote MEECA Event
MEECA is pleased to announce Commissioner Dan Scripps as the keynote speaker for our 5th Annual Banquet & Awards Celebration on Wednesday, March 6th. Mr. Scripps was recently appointed to the Michigan Public Service Commission by Governor Whitmer. He fills a vacancy left when Rachael Eubanks (MEECA’s 2017 keynote speaker) left the MPSC to become State Treasurer. Next weeks’ event will give MEECA members and guests an opportunity to meet one of Michigan’s top utility regulators and learn about his priorities for the state’s energy system–including future prospects for energy efficiency as a resource.
Commissioner Scripps will speak to a sold-out audience. Nearly 130 people are registered to attend–a record for this event previously known as MEECA’s Annual Gala. The evening will also feature an awards program to highlight outstanding work in our industry during the past year.
MEECA is grateful to this year’s Title Sponsor DNV GL and to our other sponsors CLEAResult, DTE Energy, Consumers Energy, 5 Lakes Energy, SEEL, Walker-Miller Energy Services, ICF, Energy Sciences, Pure Eco, Development Solutions Midwest, WaterFurnace International, Lean & Green Michigan, The Nielsen Group, and Wright Energy Partners. Thanks to all!
EE in the News
MPSC Releases Annual EWR Report
The 2017 Utility Energy Waste Reduction Programs report found 64 electric companies (investor-owned, cooperatives, and municipalities) spent a total of $220.5 of EWR programs, and gas utilities spent $88.1 million. The $308.6 million spent is expected to save customers nearly $1.1 billion over the 12-year lifecycle of EWR efforts adopted in 2017. Together these programs have saved nearly 1.6 million megawatt hours of electricity and about 5.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas. Michigan’s EWR standard, created in 2008, requires all natural gas and electric utility providers in the state to implement customer programs to lower energy usage to reduce the future cost of service.
The commission found that customers should see an estimated savings of $3.51 for every dollar spent on these programs. Read the full report here.
New Program Helps Businesses Improve Storefronts and Save Energy
Cornerstone Alliance and Indiana Michigan Power are partnering to assist small businesses in Benton Harbor in updating their facades with grant funding. Businesses that receive the $10,000 grant would then be eligible for up to $100,000 in energy rebates. Cornerstone says this program runs through August 1, 2019 or until funds are exhausted. Click here for a television news story about this program.
PACE Project Spotlight: Hotel Harrington
The historic Hotel Harrington — once a center of social and political life in Port Huron from its late 19th century beginnings — recently served as an assisted living center for seniors, before its closing in 2017. Developers Jeff Katofsky and Rick Barreca purchased the building in August 2018 through Hip Hip, Huron! LLC. They incorporated over $2.6 million of PACE financing for a broad array of energy upgrades as part of the overall restoration of the hotel, including solar PV, high efficiency HVAC, LED lighting and water conservation measures (more than 1 million gallons saved per year).
The Hotel Harrington redevelopment marks Katofsky’s third Michigan PACE project and his second in St. Clair County, after his landmark restoration of the St. Clair Inn. This new collaborative effort with G-Energy, Twain Financial and MEECA member Lean & Green Michigan will help them transform a second historical landmark in the county with state-of-the-art energy and water efficiency and renewable energy measures. See this case study for more details of this impressive project.
Michigan Saves Financing Sees Steady Growth
As reported by MiBiz, MEECA member Michigan Saves has surpassed $175 million in private investment since its inception in 2009. The organization, which is charged with providing low-interest loans for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in all sectors, has set a goal of achieving $1 billion of investment by 2023. So far about 17,000 projects in homes and commercial buildings have been enabled. Annual savings have averaged about $270 for residential customers and roughly $7,100 for commercial customers.
On-bill Financing Gains Popularity
Paying for energy efficiency upgrades can be a challenge, especially for low-income utility customers without the cash or credit line to fund capital improvements. In response, some utility companies are turning to on-bill financing as a valuable tool. At no upfront cost, customers can pay for EE projects over time as a line item on their utility bills, often at no increase to their monthly bills given the immediate energy savings. See this recent article about one such program in North Carolina. Closer to home, the Holland On-Bill Loan Program (OBLP) is proving this model for other utility companies in Michigan to follow.
Walker-Miller Energy Services Offering Free Job Training
MEECA member Walker-Miller Energy Services, based in Detroit, has announced a free green job training and placement program. The company is seeking committed individuals who are either long-term unemployed, economically disadvantaged, or returning citizens to train them in a six-week program in building science. The first session runs April 8 through May 18, 2019. Classes will be held 6:00-9:00PM Monday through Friday.
Upon completion of the six-week course, participants will take BPI’s Building Performance Analyst certification exam to verify their knowledge in conducting comprehensive energy audits and associated quantitative skills. Graduates who pass the exam will then participate in a job fair focused on energy careers with Michigan businesses.
Walk-in interviews will be conducted March 12-14, 2019 during 8:00AM-Noon and 1:00-4:00PM at 8045 2nd Ave. in Detroit. To learn more about this opportunity, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Teri Howard at 313-366-8535.
From the U.S. Energy Information Administration:
Regional variations in household lighting consumption driven by bulb choice and bulb count. U.S. households consumed an average of 1,105 kilowatthours (kWh) of electricity for lighting in 2015, or about 10% of electricity consumption in homes. Data from EIA’s latest Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) show that average lighting consumption varied geographically from a high of 1,333 kWh per home in the West North Central states of the Midwest to 911 kWh in the Pacific states along the West Coast.
Electricity intensity of U.S. homes and commercial buildings decreases in coming decades. In EIA’s recently released Annual Energy Outlook 2019 (AEO2019) Reference case, projected residential and commercial purchased electricity consumption grows more slowly than the number of households or total commercial floorspace. As a result, electricity intensity—the amount of electricity consumed per household or square foot of commercial floorspace—decreases by an average of 0.3% per year and 0.4% per year from 2018 through 2050 in the residential and commercial sectors, respectively.
Demand Response Updates
Energy News Network has reported that Michigan utilities’ request for customers to turn down their thermostats during the recent polar vortex was a widespread exercise in demand response, or reducing energy usage during peak demand periods. As the article explains, Consumers Energy suffered a fire at a critical natural gas compression station in southeast Michigan, while DTE Energy asked customers to reduce their electricity usage as the regional grid required an usually large amount of gas generation. Consumers Energy officials reported that their request—sent via emergency text message—reduced gas demand by 10 percent.
University of Michigan researchers will apply a $2.9 million grant to study how strategic control of air conditioners can improve grid reliability and efficiency. The grant was awarded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). While other research and industry teams have used residential loads like air conditioners to provide load balancing in a variety of small-scale projects, the aim of this project is to overcome the challenges of implementing this technology at large scales. Learn more about UofM’s research.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released their 2018 Annual U.S. Climate Report and 2018 Annual Global Report. These reports conclude that 2018 was the fourth hottest year on record worldwide, and that disasters in a warmer, wetter-than-average year cost $14 billion in damages. In this context, nearly 300 people gathered in Grand Rapids this month for the inaugural Michigan Climate Summit. A local television station produced this report of the event.
Public Policy Update
Dan Scripps Appointed to MPSC
Governor Gretchen Whitmer appointed Dan Scripps, of Northport, to the Michigan Public Service Commission on February 8, 2019. Mr. Scripps will succeed Rachael Eubanks who has resigned for a term expiring July 2, 2023 following her appointment as State Treasurer. MEECA looks forward to having Michigan’s newest commissioner as the keynote speaker for its upcoming Annual Banquet & Awards Celebration on March 6, 2019. More information about Commissioner Scripps is available at the MPSC website.
Gov. Whitmer Signs New Executive Order Creating EGLE
Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order to create the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). The department will include a new Office of Climate & Energy in addition to other functions previously housed in other departments. Those functions in the Michigan Agency for Energy that dealt with energy reliability and security are reassigned to the MPSC. All other MAE functions including the Michigan Energy Office will fall under EGLE. Click here to read Executive Order 2019-6.
Code of Conduct Rule 9 Collaborative Meeting Notice
In its order dated August 28, 2018 in Case No. U-18361, the Commission directed that MPSC Staff to convene a collaborative with the utilities and alternative electric suppliers who will be subject to the Code of Conduct rules, and all other interested parties, for “the purpose of identifying a process whereby competitors who wish to receive information that is shared by a utility under proposed Rule 9 make their request for the information known to the utility.” (see page 18, ordering paragraph C). MEECA will participate in the upcoming meeting during 9:00AM to 1:00PM on Monday, March 11, 2019 at Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), Lake Michigan Hearing Room 7109 W. Saginaw Highway in Lansing.
Michigan Energy Codes Compliance Collaborative
MEECA is participating in a newly formed stakeholder group focused on implementing Michigan building efficiency codes. Subgroups have been tasked with addressing the separate residential and commercial codes. These subgroups will meet next on March 7, 2019 during 9:30-11:30AM (commercial) and 1:00-3:00PM (residential).
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Lean & Green Michigan™ helps commercial, industrial, multifamily and nonprofit property owners finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that are profitable for all parties – property owners, contractors, financial institutions and local governments.
Lean & Green Michigan PACE financing allows a property owner to use the local government’s taxing authority to the property owner’s advantage. The property owner voluntarily enters into a special assessment agreement, which it pays off as part of its property tax bill over the next 15 to 25 years.