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Clean energy bill package advances in Michigan Legislature, would streamline siting process

Posted by Adam Winer on Nov 3, 2023

Business trade organizations applaud House passage of House Bills 5120-5123 and Senate Bills 271, 273, and 502

LANSING, MI – Advanced energy industry groups, including the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council (Michigan EIBC), Clean Grid Alliance (CGA), American Clean Power Association (ACP), Advanced Energy United (United), and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) today applauded the House passage of legislation to streamline and improve the siting of wind, solar, and energy storage projects (House Bills 5120-5123) as well as bills to set a 100% carbon-free energy standard by 2040, enact an energy storage requirement, increase energy waste reduction, and improve customer access to rooftop (Senate Bills 271, 273, and 502). The trade organizations, which collectively represent hundreds of businesses in the clean power industry, urged the legislature to continue to move these legislative packages to the Governor’s desk for signature.

In order for Michigan to achieve our expanded clean energy goals, House Bills 5120-5123 establish a common sense process that balances local government involvement with the expertise at the Michigan Public Service Commission to make decisions regarding large utility-scale wind, solar, and energy storage projects. The bills also ensure that the benefits from projects flow to local communities, construction workers will be paid prevailing wages, and environmental protections will be upheld. This legislation will allow farmers with farmland that has been in their family for generations to keep that land and gain a new source of income. Combined with Senate Bills 271, 273, and 502, which expand renewable energy, energy storage, energy efficiency, and access to rooftop solar, this legislation will create jobs and economic opportunity across Michigan. 

“The clean energy industry employs nearly 124,000 Michiganders – which is more than in any other state in the Midwest,” said Dr. Laura Sherman, President of Michigan EIBC. “Michigan EIBC applauds the House passage of this legislation, which will support our growing advanced energy workforce and communities across Michigan.”

“These legislative packages offer solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing the energy transition,” said Trish Demeter, Managing Director with Advanced Energy United. “With a 100% clean energy goal, and reduced barriers to building wind, solar and energy storage projects, Michigan affirms its place as a leader in the clean energy economy.”

“I congratulate the House of Representatives for displaying strong leadership on climate and clean energy by passing this package of bills,” said Peder Mewis, Regional Policy Director with CGA. “Reforming the siting and permitting process will offer a clear path forward for renewable energy development and ensure Michigan can achieve a carbon free future.”

“The leadership shown by the Michigan House of Representatives on these critical issues can serve as a model for lawmakers in other states as they seek to deliver the valuable new jobs, tax revenue and investment that clean energy can bring,” said Erika Kowall, Director of Midwest State Affairs with the American Clean Power Association (ACP).

“This legislation marks a historic step forward for Michigan’s clean energy economy,” said Markus Pitchford, central regional director for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “The package will bring billions of dollars of investments and thousands of new jobs to the state — from project development and installation to manufacturing. It features provisions to support solar and storage projects of all sizes, including a significant boost to net metering caps for rooftop solar and siting and permitting reforms that are critical for large-scale solar and storage development. The solar and storage industry looks forward to working with the Whitmer administration, as well as state and local agencies, to implement this monumental law.”

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Topics: Press Releases, Michigan, Trish Demeter

Crain's Detroit Business: 100% Clean Power Standard Clears House in Marathon Session

Posted by Dave Eggert on Nov 3, 2023

Crain's Detroit Business reports on the passage of Michigan's sweeping climate bills mandating a 100% clean energy standard by 2040, quoting Trish Demeter on the Great Lake State's affirmation of its role as a clean energy leader.

Michigan power providers would have to reach a 100% clean energy standard by 2040 under sweeping climate bills approved late Thursday and early Friday in the Democratic-led House. Legislators also voted to let renewable developers seek state permits to site large-scale wind and solar farms in communities that block the projects.

The party-line votes capped a marathon day and night of session and likely cleared the legislation’s path to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who wants lawmakers to act this fall. The Senate, also controlled by Democrats, passed the main measures last week and appears poised to OK the siting bills next week before legislators potentially adjourn for the year.

Under Senate Bill 271, a 15% renewable mandate, which ended in 2021, would be reinstated and rise to 50% in 2030 and 60% in 2035, when a concurrent 80% “clean energy” requirement would kick in before going to 100% in 2040. Michigan currently has a goal that 35% of electric needs me met through renewable energy and energy waste reduction by 2025.

Electric providers would have to achieve a portfolio of 100% clean or renewable energy. That could include wind, solar, dams, geothermal, biomass, nuclear, natural gas — if technology is at least 90% effective in capturing and permanently storing carbon dioxide — and potentially other types if allowed by regulators. Utilities have turned to burning natural gas as they close coal-fired plants.

Utilities and alternative suppliers could seek an extension from a renewable or clean energy deadline if they show that complying would be practically infeasible, excessively costly to customers, not produce enough electricity or cause reliability issues. The Michigan Public Service Commission could grant an unlimited number of two-year extensions.

The siting measures, House Bills 5020-5021, would let power providers and independent power producers seek construction permits for big wind, solar and energy storage operations from the Public Service Commission.

A local government with a compatible ordinance would have to approve or deny the application within four months. The applicant and municipality could agree to extend the deadline by up to four months.

It “empowers locals and puts the process directly with locals first,” said Rep. Abraham Aiyash, a Hamtramck Democrat and sponsor of the main siting bill. “Locals would now have an opportunity to set up a process and if they set up a process, so long as it matches similar state standards, a developer would be required to go through this local process first.”

Landowners, he said, should have the flexibility and freedom to voluntarily lease their land to developers. Municipal officials and residents say they should be able to determine whether to allow renewable projects.

The state certification process would be available for proposed wind farms with a capacity of at least 100 megawatts, solar farms with a capacity of 50 or more megawatts and storage facilities with a capacity of at least 100 megawatts and an energy discharge capability of 200 megawatt hours or more. The applicant would give up to $75,000 to each affected local government — no more than $150,000 total across multiple municipalities — to cover its costs to intervene in the proceeding.

The Public Service Commission would be required to grant an application if it meets certain requirements, including that construction workers are paid prevailing wages, panels and blades are minimum distances from roads and adjacent properties, developers agree to community benefits agreements and union agreements, and the facility will not unreasonably diminish prime or other farmland.

“These legislative packages offer solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing the energy transition,” said Trish Demeter, managing director with Advanced Energy United, an industry association. “With a 100% clean energy goal, and reduced barriers to building wind, solar and energy storage projects, Michigan affirms its place as a leader in the clean energy economy.”

Read the full article here .
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Topics: United In The News, Michigan, Trish Demeter

Clean Energy Industry Applauds Cost Savings, Technological Innovation Elements in DTE Electric Settlement

Posted by Adam Winer on Jul 17, 2023

Stakeholders in Michigan worked with DTE Electric to accelerate retirement of coal-fired power plants to align with the Michigan Healthy Climate Plan's emissions reduction goals.

DETROIT, MI – Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council (Michigan EIBC), Institute for Energy Innovation (IEI), Advanced Energy United, and Clean Grid Alliance, in addition to other parties, reached a settlement with DTE Electric (DTE) regarding its Integrated Resource Plan last week, leading to significant gains toward reducing emissions, expanding opportunities for advanced energy businesses and technologies, and fulfilling the goals of the Michigan Healthy Climate Plan. The settlement terms accelerate the retirement of the coal-fired Monroe Power Plant, as well as require DTE to pursue federal funding to offset and retire even more coal facilities. After the plan is approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission, the utility will be making major investments in new large-scale renewable energy projects within the next 20 years and developing battery storage capacity.  

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Topics: Press Releases, Michigan, Trish Demeter

Indianapolis Business Journal: Trish Demeter and Ed Burgess: A fateful choice looms for Indiana’s electricity grid

Posted by Ed Burgess on Jun 9, 2023

Indianapolis Business Journal publishes an article on the future of Indiana's electricity grid written by United's Trish Demeter and Ed Burgess from Strategen.

Much has changed since Indiana’s electric utilities last issued their plans to power Hoosier homes and businesses—fossil fuel prices, supply chains, federal policies, geopolitics and technologies, to name just a few.

These changes have opened new opportunities to offer customers lower energy prices and cleaner air. But if Indiana utilities move ahead with their current proposals that ignore these rapidly evolving market conditions, they will waste their customers’ money on 20th century strategies and technologies. Don’t Hoosiers deserve better options for an affordable, reliable and modern grid?

Four of the state’s largest electric utilities—CenterPoint, Duke Energy Indiana, Indiana Michigan Power and Northern Indiana Public Service Co.—have proposed replacing coal-fi red powerplants with natural-gas-fueled plants. It’s like upgrading from a1995 Toyota Corolla to a 2005 Toyota Corolla when, for the same price or less, you could have a Ford Mustang Mach-e. It would be irresponsible for these utilities to not reconsider their plans before breaking ground on new projects when changing market conditions make potentially cost-saving and innovative solutions available.

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Topics: United In The News, Indiana, Trish Demeter

RTO Insider: Report: Energy Storage Would Save Indiana Utilities $73M

Posted by RTO Insider Staff on May 4, 2023

RTO Insider published a report on the savings Indiana's top three utilities could see by investing in battery storage, quoting Trish Demeter on the importance of committing to cheaper, cleaner, advanced energy technologies for Indiana residents.

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Topics: United In The News, Indiana, Trish Demeter

New study: Indiana utilities could save customers $73 million by embracing advanced energy tech over new gas plants

Posted by Adam Winer on May 3, 2023

The report analyzed battery storage compared to natural gas “peakers” currently proposed by Indiana utilities

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., May 3, 2023 – Some of the largest utilities in Indiana could save their customers a combined $73.1 million by switching to advanced energy technologies instead of moving forward with plans to build new gas-fired power plants. The finding comes in a new study by Strategen Consulting, which analyzed several scenarios that considered a range of fuel and technology costs and deployment strategies and found that the utilities could achieve equivalent reliability and save their customers millions of dollars by building battery storage instead of new natural gas combustion turbines.

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Topics: State Policy, Press Releases, Indiana, Trish Demeter

Inside Climate News: Minnesota Has Passed a Landmark Clean Energy Law. Which State Is Next?

Posted by Dan Gearino on Apr 10, 2023

Inside Climate News outlined the states most likely to make commitments to 100 percent carbon-free or renewable energy. Trish Demeter was quoted on Michigan's likelihood to pass major clean energy legislation.

With remarkable speed, Minnesota lawmakers have passed a bill requiring 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040.

The legislation, signed by Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday, means Minnesota joins a group of 10 states (California, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington) plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Looking ahead to the rest of 2023, I’m wondering which states are most likely to join the 100 percent club with new laws. I asked a bunch of people who would know, and these are the places they suggested I watch most closely:

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Topics: United In The News, Trish Demeter

NPR: Major companies in Indiana, two cities ask utilities to create green tariff program

Posted by Rebecca Thiele on Dec 19, 2022

WFYI Indianapolis detailed major Indiana companies' ask to create a green tariff program, quoting Trish Demeter on the demand for renewable energy options. Read snippets below and the full article here.

Two Indiana cities and six major companies in the state want AES Indiana and Duke Energy to make it easier for them to get their power from renewables. That’s according to a letter sent Thursday from Indianapolis, Bloomington, Coca-Cola, Walmart, Salesforce, Cummins, Rivian and Roche.

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Topics: United In The News, Indiana, Trish Demeter