Energy

Consumers Energy announced plans Thursday to purchase a majority of the output from a large-scale solar project in Calhoun County, among the first deals under the utility’s shift to renewable energy.

GRAND RAPIDS — City officials are reviving plans for a solar project at a former Grand Rapids landfill as the city sorts through broader questions about potential generation at seven other city-owned properties.

HOLLAND — A lakeshore company has received $200,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy to advance the development of utility-scale energy storage.

Michigan has had its share of blackouts and brownouts over the years. Could “greenouts” be on the horizon? 

A proposed settlement between Consumers Energy and independent power producers could lead to hundreds of megawatts of solar power being built within the next four years.

Michigan is one of seven states with discriminatory clean energy laws because they favor locally produced content, a World Trade Organization panel ruled last month. 

Michigan’s largest utilities are giving a substantial boost to an economic development program launched by former Gov. Rick Snyder, committing to spend billions of additional dollars with in-state suppliers over the next five years.

GRANDVILLE — Battcom Inc., a provider of industrial and commercial batteries and chargers, has sold to a Redford, Mich.-based Alpine Power Systems Inc.

Fuel distributor Crystal Flash has expanded along the lakeshore with the acquisition of Kohley’s Superior Propane Inc. in Muskegon.

Some people might assume homes built by Habitat for Humanity are typical, nuts-and-bolts affordable housing adhering to basic building codes. However, that assumption would be wrong.

A large penetration of electric vehicles is not in Michigan’s near-future, so advocates say EV drivers shouldn’t be hit with steep fee increases based on the state’s road funding formula. That is the prospect under a road funding law enacted in 2015, but clean energy groups hope the issue is revisited before electric vehicle drivers potentially see some of the highest registration fees in the country.

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers introduced a bill this month calling for the expanded use of microgrids, which help utilities and private customers rely on localized power generation during outages. House Bill 4477— sponsored by state Rep. Steve Johnson, R-Wayland — aims to build grid resilience by allowing customers who generate their own power to disconnect from the grid during outages.

A recent report found that Michigan leads the Midwest in clean energy jobs, but top state energy officials say the state and industry could foster a more diverse workforce.

The closure date of a large coal plant along the Lake Michigan shoreline could be moved up under a proposed settlement agreement between Consumers Energy and multiple environmental and energy groups. In late March, the Jackson-based utility announced it had reached a deal with groups over its long-term energy plan, which includes closing all of its coal units and building out thousands of megawatts of solar energy by 2040.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey had a message for reporters when asked to respond to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposal earlier this year to form a dedicated climate change office. “I just find it fascinating that we can sit here in Michigan in the chamber of the House and think that we can control the climate,” he said.

A $1.4 million line item in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s $60.2 billion budget proposal unveiled March 5 calls for a three-year project to catalog “hazardous materials pipelines” that cross Michigan waterways. Department of Natural Resources Director Daniel Eichinger told lawmakers this month the study, spurred by the debate over Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac, is needed to fill an information gap about dangers posed to Michigan waters.

A San Diego firm’s proposed sale of its renewable energy assets will not affect plans for a wind energy project in West Michigan, company officials say. On Feb. 12, Sempra Renewables announced plans to sell its assets to a subsidiary of Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric Power Co. Inc. for $1.1 billion. Sempra’s portfolio includes 724 megawatts (MW) of wind energy and battery storage across the U.S.

Over the past two weeks, Attorney General Dana Nessel has drawn attention to Michigan’s increasing electricity rates, pleasing consumer advocacy groups who say the issue has received little attention. Speaking to Michigan State University’s Institute of Public Utilities on Feb. 22, Nessel said in a statement she wants to “revive the legacy” of former Attorney General Frank Kelley in advocating for the public in rate cases before the Michigan Public Service Commission.

A nonprofit “green bank” that finances residential and commercial clean energy projects continues to grow, surpassing $175 million in private investment since 2009. Officials with Michigan Saves Inc., which provides low-interest loans for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, have an ambitious goal of $1 billion of investment by 2023.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appointed former state representative and clean energy advocate Dan Scripps to the Michigan Public Service Commission on Feb. 8, filling a key vacancy as the administration brings a heightened focus to renewable energy and climate change.

Former Democratic legislator Dan Scripps has been appointed to the Michigan Public Service Commission, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced today.

MUSKEGON — A West Michigan solar energy developer is pursuing new projects and job-training in low-income communities across the state that qualify for tax relief under recent federal tax reforms. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 created qualified Opportunity Zones that allow investors to defer taxes on capital gains meant to spur development in low-income areas. While most projects involve real estate development, some developers across the U.S. are beginning to explore the potential for renewable energy in Opportunity Zones.

Foresight Management has acquired Grand Rapids-based Building Performance Team Inc., expanding the company’s in-house services in energy modeling and building commissioning.

The Michigan Public Service Commission has started what could be a two-year process to govern how renewable energy projects are connected to the electric grid. The plan to make new interconnection rules seeks to resolve an unprecedented backlog of requests from independent power producers to build solar projects at a time when utility customers increasingly are turning to solar for self-generation.

For about $21 million, Michigan can build a statewide network of electric vehicle fast-charging stations to meet anticipated demand by 2030.

It’s been two years since the Legislature passed sweeping energy reform bills, yet the laws remain front and center for those working behind the scenes on energy policy.

U.S. power companies are in the middle of a major shift that includes an increased focus on smaller, modular renewable energy projects and less on centralized fossil fuel plants. Jackson-based CMS Energy Corp., the parent company of Consumers Energy, is no different. Following the closure of its “classic seven” coal plants in 2016, Consumers released its long-term energy vision in June that spans the next two decades. 

Business and clean energy advocates are aligned in support of state legislation that clarifies the tax-exempt status of small-scale renewable energy systems.

GRAND HAVEN — Yet another West Michigan coal plant will be laid to rest after officials in Grand Haven adopted a plan to transition the city’s utility to more natural gas and renewable energy.

Planning for a more electrified transportation future gained steam in Michigan this year with multiple spending plans totaling $85 million, as well as a series of in-depth policy discussions among a cross-section of stakeholders.

GRAND RAPIDS — A West Michigan-based energy developer is acquiring an Iowa ethanol plant from DuPont Industrial Biosciences.

As Switch Ltd. planned a new data center in Gaines Township outside Grand Rapids three years ago, the company considered it critical that Consumers Energy could power the facility entirely with renewable energy.

Consumers Energy plans a major shift to solar energy over the next two decades, but the extent to which the Jackson-based utility will rely on third-party developers eager to build projects in Michigan remains unclear.