Board Officers were elected at the January board meeting. Melanie McCoy, Superintendent of Sebewaing Light and Water, is the new President. Dave Konkle served as President for almost 3 years and continues as a Board member. Mark Clevey continues as Vice-President, Cary Church continues as Treasurer and John Sarver continues as Secretary. GLREA will continue to promote and advocate for a greater use of renewable energy and your support will help make that possible. You can join on-line at www.glrea.org.
State Legislation to clarify taxation of solar panels has been introduced in the Michigan House (HB 4068 and HB 4069) by Rep. Bronna Kahle and in the Michigan Senate (SB 47 and SB 48) by Sen. Tom Barrett. The bills have the same intent and language as HB 5143 and HB 5680 that were passed by the House and Senate in 2018, but vetoed by Governor Snyder.
Governor Whitmer will be able to appoint two new commissioners to the Michigan Public Service Commission. Rachael Eubanks has left the MPSC and been appointed by Gov. Whitmer to become the State Treasurer. Norman Saari’s term as a commissioner ends on July 2, 2019. Sally Talberg, the third commissioner and present Chair, was appointed in 2017 to a new term which ends July 2, 2021. The change in the composition of the MPSC could have a significant impact on energy policy in Michigan.
Michigan’s Largest Solar Project, 239 MW, has been approved by the Shiawassee County Planning Commission. A special use permit that will allow the proposed $259 million development was unanimously approved by county planners on Jan 24. Construction will cover more than 1200 acres in Hazelton and Venice townships and start late this year. The Ranger Power project will use east-west tracking solar panels and will produce enough power for 35,000 typical homes. More details
Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) has authorized Consumers Energy to launch the state’s first electric vehicle infrastructure pilot program. Consumers will launch its PowerMIDrive pilot program, a three-year, $10 million effort to support the growing EV market through new rates, rebates and customer education. The program includes a Nighttime Savers Rate to encourage EV drivers to charge their vehicles between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. Residential EV drivers who sign up for the nighttime rate will be offered a $500 rebate for each EV. Consumers will also offer $5,000 rebates for chargers installed in public areas and up to $70,000 in rebates for the installation of a DC Fast Charger.
State Energy Laws passed in 2016 include a new distributed generation (DG) program to replace Michigan’s existing net metering program. General rate cases filed by utilities after June 1, 2018 include proposed DG tariffs. DTE filed their rate case soon after June 1 and consequently a DG tariff for DTE customers is expected in Spring 2019. Consumers Energy filed a rate case before June 1, 2018 and that has recently been settled. That settlement agreement includes a provision that a new rate case will not be filed until after Jan. 1, 2020. This means that a new DG tariff for Consumers Energy customers is not expected until October 2020. Customers can enroll in the existing net metering program until a utility has a new DG tariff and be grandfathered for 10 years.
SolarYpsi has won a Smart 50 Award. In partnership with Smart Cities Connect, Smart Cities Connect Foundation, and US Ignite, the awards annually recognize global smart city projects honoring innovative and influential work. SolarYpsi partnered with Chart House Energy to train local, low income, residents on how to install solar power and then hired them to put solar on the roof of a community center and the City’s Department of Public Services Truck port. More details.
DTE Electric’s Large Customer Voluntary Green Pricing Program (Case No. U-20343) has been approved by the MPSC. The minimum participation is 20% of monthly energy use, up to 100% and there will be 5, 10, or 20 year contracts. Participating customers will pay a per kWh subscription fee priced at the levelized cost of energy of the renewable assets associated with the Program. The pricing for the initial contracts is expected to be below $45/MWH. DTE Electric said power for the program will be available in late 2020 and costs will be set when renewable energy projects come online, but customers can already enroll in the program.
East Lansing Solar Park became operational on Dec. 28. The $600,000 community solar project located at Burcham Park is the first of its kind for the Lansing Board of Water and Light. The BWL partnered with Michigan Energy Options and Pivot Energy. About 144 customers have signed 25-year leases for one or more of the 1000 315-watt solar panels. The customers paid $399 per panel and will get utility bill credits for the power produced by their panel(s). The City of East Lansing and Capital Area Transportation Authority are major investors, leasing 300 and 189 panels, respectively. More details
One Year Later – MSU’s solar carport array has been working great. Local TV station provides a short video update. More details.
Grand Rapids’ West Side now has 1800 solar panels installed (see photo above) atop Bridge St. Market, an accompanying parking garage, and an adjacent building that houses the West Michigan Center for Arts & Technology. Consumers Energy hosted a dedication ceremony for the $5 million project that will include a nearby 500 kW battery. The combination of solar panels and battery is the first of its kind in a neighborhood setting in Michigan. More details
Swedish 172-Unit Housing Complex will meet all of its electricity and heating needs year-round through a combination of rooftop solar and hydrogen fuel cells. The fully energy self-sufficient apartment complex will use 659 kW of solar to meet the summer energy needs of its residents and store up compressed hydrogen, which will then be converted back to electricity and heat during the cold winter months. More details.
World’s Largest Roofing manufacturing company has launched a startup called GAF Energy that’s focused on bringing solar power to new roofing projects in the U.S. According to Standard Industries, around five million homes are reroofed every year, but only 300,000 of those homeowners opt to install solar panels. GAF Energy will work with local contractors to take care of the installation logistics. More details.
Copenhagen plans to become the first carbon neutral city in the world by 2025. Some 22% of Denmark’s electricity is produced by wind turbines, but the country intends to increase that proportion to 50% by 2025. The city has greatly increased the efficiency of its public and older residential buildings. Copenhagen is making the city bicycle-friendly and hoping to account for 75% of trips inside the city by bicycle. The remaining automobiles and buses will be electric or hydrogen. More details.
Council of the District of Columbia has passed the “Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act of 2018.” The legislation requires that 100 percent of the electricity sold in the District come from renewables by 2032. It also sets annual solar targets for every year through 2041. More details.
2019 Michigan Climate Action Summit will be held by the Michigan Climate Action Network at the Eberhard Center in Grand Rapids on Feb. 21, 9am-5pm. The Summit will bring together climate advocates, activists, and policymakers to set a bold new agenda for Michigan to move forward on climate. 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 renewable energy 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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