Left: Attendees tour a PACE project site; Right: Members talk with MPSC Chairman Sally Talberg.
As a nonprofit trade association, MEECA is required by law to conduct an annual membership meeting to elect new board members and officers. This is also a time to review recent accomplishments and set new goals for the coming year. The 2019 Annual Meeting was held on October 29th in downtown Lansing. More than 30 people participated. After organizational business was finished, MPSC Chairman Sally Talberg shared her current priorities and answered questions from our members. In particular, she described the MPSC’s recently announced MI Power Grid stakeholder initiative. She encouraged MEECA to actively participate in this multi-year effort focused on Michgian’s clean energy transition.
This month MEECA members and guests will gather for the annual membership meeting. The program—sponsored by Development Solutions Midwest—will feature a conversation with MPSC Chairman Sally Talberg (tentative) and a case study of a nearby PACE project. Members will also receive a brief organizational report and learn results of the board election.
We will convene at the Michigan Environmental Council’s historic office located at 602 W. Ionia Ave. in downtown Lansing. After touring the PACE project site just down the block, attendees will head to Lansing Brewing Co. for networking until 7:00 p.m.
MEECA is co-hosting an upcoming conference in Detroit focused on achieving deep energy savings and on-site renewable generation in commercial retrofits and new construction. The event will take place during 8:30-5:00 on Wednesday, September 18, 2019 at the Jam Handy, 2900 E. Grand Blvd.
Note: Click here to register. Space is still available and MEECA members receive a discount on registration. If you missed the email with the special code, contact David Gard at firstname.lastname@example.org or 517-896-2960.
Image: MEECA members enjoying a fine summer day at Hawk Hollow Golf Course.
Eighty-four people participated in this year’s Summer Golf Outing on July 10th. For the third straight year, Hawk Hollow’s popular course provided the backdrop and the weather cooperated fully. Following the 18-hole scramble, the day ended with an awards reception in the clubhouse. Once again the annual fundraiser combined valuable networking with the chance to enjoy the Michigan summer in a beautiful setting. Pictures from this year’s Golf Outing are available at the MEECA website.
Online PACE Contractor Training. MEECA member company Lean & Green Michigan (LAGM) now offers online training to become a PACE-certified energy contractor. Re-certification with the latest updates in the Michigan PACE market is also available. This convenient training includes a 3-part webinar series followed by a 15-question multiple choice quiz. Benefits of PACE certification include being listed on the LAGM website, receiving referrals to potential PACE projects, and learning more about the marketplace. Sign up today for this valuable training opportunity.
Video Presentations by Jim Newman. Jim Newman with MEECA member company Newman Consulting Group, LLC is a recognized expert in efficient building design and practices. Check out Jim’s advice about how to design a healthier, more profitable building with better coordination among architects, engineers and owners.
Brandy Brown, Ph.D. has been tapped to lead Michigan’s new Office of Climate and Energy. Formerly with MEECA member company CLEAResult, Dr. Brown is familiar with the central role of efficiency in reducing carbon emissions. Under her direction, the office within the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) will coordinate Michigan’s response to climate change across state departments and agencies, and provide recommendations, guidance and assistance on climate change mitigation, adaptation and resiliency strategies. Learn more about Dr. Brown’s appointment in EGLE’s press release.
New Task Force to Examine Upper Peninsula Energy Issues. Gov. Whitmer has formed an advisory group within the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) to focus on UP-specific energy issues such as high electricity prices and the heavy reliance on propane for heating. Most of this propane comes through Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline that the administration describes as an “ever-present threat” to the Great Lakes. See Executive Order 2019-14 for more information about the 13-member task force and its assignment.
October 2nd is National Energy Efficiency Day. Sign up to be a supporter and prepare now to engage in the 4th annual Energy Efficiency Day. This is an opportunity to join others across the nation to highlight the benefits of saving energy—lower utility bills, more comfortable buildings, more jobs and economic growth, cleaner air. Tools will be available to share information with your networks using email, newsletters, Facebook and Twitter. Share your efficiency tips, projects, case studies and stories using the #EEDay2019 hashtag. Reach out to state and local leaders for proclamations. To learn more, contact Monique Hanis at email@example.com or 202-391-0884.
Energy Use in the Cannabis Industry. As reported by Great Lakes Echo, Michigan officials are examining energy regulations for the state’s recreational marijuana industry following the state’s recent legalization of recreational marijuana. In particular, grow lights are expected to significantly increase the demand for electricity. In a related story, FairWarning found that only two of eleven states that have legalized cannabis—Massachusetts and Illinois—have adopted energy efficiency standards for indoor growing.
Detroit Releases its Sustainability Action Agenda. The City of Detroit has launched a new sustainability roadmap focused on achieving affordable and healthy homes, clean and connected neighborhoods, and stewardship of natural resources. It seeks to build on decades of progress already made by a number of organizations throughout the city. Improving access to utility efficiency programs is a key action listed in the agenda. To learn more, visit the Detroit Sustainable Action Agenda website.
EE Financing Updates:
Michigan Saves Releases Annual Report. Total investment approaching $200 million was reported through 2018 by Michigan Saves. About three-fourths of this money supported residential projects. Click to obtain the full report.
The Bottom Line of Commercial Energy Efficiency Financing. Michigan Saves recently published a useful summary of its commercial financing options that are currently available.
Battle Creek YMCS finances with PACE. The first PACE project in Calhoun County has been announced. This $1.3 million investment will enable the facility to cut total electricity use nearly in half and save more than $3.2 million over the next 22 years. An online case study of this project demonstrates how PACE can help nonprofits reduce their operating costs and devote more resources to core mission.
MEECA speakers at the residential ZNE event (L to R): Dale Neville and Mark Lee from Better World Builders; Patrick O’Boyle from Michigan Saves; Bali Kumar from Lean & Green Michigan; MEECA executive director David Gard
Earlier this month, MEECA co-hosted a day-long conference at Founders Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids on how to achieve “zero net energy” performance in residential buildings. The event quickly sold out with more than 80 people in attendance, surpassing expectations.
For context, last year several MEECA members expressed a desire to better understand the term Zero Net Energy (or ZNE) which they were hearing more frequently in the marketplace. Briefly, ZNE refers to a building with on-site generation that produces at least as much energy as it uses during the course of a year. Achieving this level of performance requires knowing how to bring together deep energy savings with renewable technologies such as solar PV and geothermal heating and cooling—a truly integrated solution. Based on this initial interest, MEECA has been working to educate its members about this growing market segment.
The event in Grand Rapids was our first collaboration and focused on residential ZNE. Keynote speaker Tim Wright with GeoComfort set the stage by sharing broad trends in technology and public policy that herald a growing market share for ZNE. Panel discussions then dove deeper into design strategies for thermal envelop, heating and cooling, and on-site generation/storage. Financing available for ZNE projects was also covered. Among the panelists were MEECA members Mark Lee and Dale Neville from Better World Builders, Patrick O’Boyle from Michigan Saves, and Bali Kumar from Lean & Green Michigan.
Finally, mark your calendars for a Commercial ZNE Event in Detroit onSeptember 18th. Details coming soon!
3rd Annual Golf Outing Sales Are Underway
The registration website for MEECA’s Summer Golf Outing is up and running. Those who attended the first two iterations of this event know to expect a day filled with great (or not so great!) golf, camaraderie, and invaluable professional networking. Come see and been seen by other movers and shakers in Michigan’s EE industry!
While most major sponsorships have already been sold, other options are still available as well as foursomes and individual spots. Early June always brings a rush in sales, so don’t wait too long to register your company.
Industry Market Trend: The call for energy efficiency at work
Sustainable energy company VEIC reports on the dynamic of more Americans pushing their employers to reduce their environmental impact, including saving energy. This development could help contractors in their business development with C/I customers. Read the full article as background for thinking about how to communicate talent retention as part of the EE value proposition!
One in four U.S. homes is all electric
A growing number of homes are all electric, with 25 percent of homes nationwide using only electricity according to EIA’s 2015 Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS). The share of all-electric homes has risen in each census region over the past decade, particularly in the Midwest and South. Visit the EIA website for more information.
MEECA members named Environment + Energy Leaders
Industry hub Environmental Leader recently inducted the 2019 class of Environment + Energy Top 100 Leaders. Among them were MEECA members Jim Newman with Newman Consulting Group, LLC and Todd Williams with Lean & Green Michigan. Winners of this elite program are selected from across a variety of industries based on their success in providing significant sustainability and energy management results. Check out the full list of honorees. Congratulations, Jim and Todd!
New Whitepaper: How the Utility-Customer Relationship in Changing in 2019
EnergyX Solutions, Inc. has published a report looking at the best time to approach a utility customer about energy efficiency incentives. They identify an massive opportunity to engage residential customers either just before or after purchase of a house. Read more here.
Energy-intensive cannabis industry to boost demand on electric grid in Michigan
Crain’s Detroit published an article by attorney Saulius Mikalonis on the energy impact of Michigan’s decision to decriminalize the use of cannabis for medicinal and recreational purposes. Growing and processing cannabis are energy-intensive activities—particularly indoor growing. To see the article, visit Crain’s Detroit.
This month we highlight three resources available online that might be of use to contractors and others working in the energy efficiency industry.
New ASHRAE Guideline 34-2019: Energy Guideline for Historic Buildings. This reference is invaluable for achieving commercial projects that save energy AND preserve the historical legacy of our built environment. By the way, Michigan’s own Lawrence Tech U. Professor Emeritus Janice Means, PE, LEED AP, FESD was involved in developing this new resource. Access ASHRAE Guideline 34-2019.
GHI webinar series. GreenHome Institute maintains a free YouTube library of its previous webinars related to residential energy savings. Sessions from the recent ZNE event in Grand Rapids can also be found there.
The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association (GLREA) was founded in 1991 to promote the manufacture, use and education of the general public in the practices of renewable energy in the Great Lakes region. GLREA and its members believe that a greater use of renewable energy will save money for homeowners, farmers and business and protect our environment. The adoption of renewable energy promotes economic development and creates new jobs, which is very important to the Michigan economy. GLREA works to establish policy that supports the free market expansion of renewable energy.
Public Policy Update
Building Energy Codes
MEECA continues to participate in the Michigan Energy Office’s Codes Compliance Collaborative to improve compliance with the current residential and commercial energy codes. If you have creative ideas toward achieving this end, contact MEECA executive director David Gard at firstname.lastname@example.org
MEECA was recently invited to meet with Michigan Bureau of Construction Codes (BCC) Director Keith Lambert and Dep. Director Alesha Gensler to share interests and priorities. Anyone can be added to BCC’s mailing lists for code-related updates and newsletters. To do so, contact Sandy Baldwin at baldwinS8@michigan.gov
U.S. DOE has issued their preliminary determination of Energy Savings for the 2018 IECC (Residential) and the ASHRAE 90.1-2016 (Commercial). This shows that there is an improvement in building energy performance with the updated codes. For more information, visit https://www.energycodes.gov/development/determinations
A number of MEECA members share the challenge of hiring and retaining qualified people. Executive director David Gard has been invited to join the Michigan Energy Workforce Development Consortium (MEWDC). This is an industry-led partnership of more than 50 representatives of industry, workforce, education, and veterans. It was established in 2009 to address current and future workforce issue that are crucial to building and sustaining Michigan’s energy industry. To share your company’s specific challenges and ideas related to workforce development, contact MEECA executive director David Gard at email@example.com
Related update on Walker-Miller Energy Service’s Green Jobs Training Program: Students in Cohort 1 have received their certificates of completion for six weeks of building science training. BPI testing is still in progress with eight students having passed the written test and field tests under review. If your company is interested in speaking with members of this cohort about potential employment, contact Nefreteri Howard firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, here is a recent article about local and state-based programs taking shape to tackle the skills gap impacting a number of industries in Michigan. MEECA will continue to look for ways to engage on this important issue.
MEECA’s 3rd Annual Summer Golf Outing — Registration is now open!
The Michigan winter is almost… nearly… over. And that means time to hit the links!
For the third straight year, MEECA members and supporters will gather on July 10, 2019 at Hawk Hollow Championship Golf Course in Bath. The number of golfers for this event—which is headlined by Double Eagle Title Sponsor DNV GL—has grown steadily. Our 2019 goal is to field thirty foursomes.
Re-Cap of MEECA’s 5th Annual Banquet & Awards Celebration
MEECA executive director David Gard with 2019 Energy Auditor of the Year winner Duane Watson.
On March 6, 2019, nearly 120 people joined MEECA at the MSU Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center for the organization’s annual banquet. Following a networking reception, attendees heard from Michigan’s newest Public Service Commissioner Dan Scripps. In his keynote address, Commissioner Scripps discussed how supportive public policy is vital to the state’s growing EE industry. He also described MEECA as Michigan’s only authentic voice for contractors with a critical role to play in the policy arena.
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 email@example.com 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.