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Are You Looking to Install A Solar Energy System?

The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association (GLREA) is an Association of businesses that install renewable energy systems - solar, wind and geothermal. If you are interested in a renewable energy system and would like to learn more about how they work, how you will save money for your home, business, farm or even a place of worship, then contact GLREA and we can have one or more of our energy contractors get in touch with you and eplain how solar works and why it will save you money and how you will be helping to preserve our environment. Please contact John Freeman by emailing at Jfreeman13@comcast.net or by calling at 313 655-7945.

2017 Michigan Solar Home and Sustainability Tour

The 2017 GLREA Michigan Solar Home and Sustainability Tour was a great success! On a series of dates held in October we had over 144 people come to various locations in Michigan to learn about solar and how it operates. This was the 22nd year that GLREA has organized the Michigan Solar Home Tour. This Solar Home Tour is a part of the National Solar Home Tour organized by the American Solar Energy Society, where more than 150,000 participants will visit some 5,000 homes and buildings across the United States.

GLREA organized Tours in eight communities across Michigan. All events were free for anybody to attend. We want to thank all of our Local Coodinators and our Sponsors for these Events! They are listed below.

Some locations had more people attend than others. So we are trying to learn from all of these events, what works in terms of marketing and getting people to attend. We attempted to get press coverage prior to these Events but its unclear what success we had in obtaining pre-event publicity. We also advertized on Facebook to see whether that worked to get interest. One key factor seems to be promoting the Solar Tour through local networks within the local community, of people and organizations that are supportive of renewable energy and are concerned about related matters like climate change. Another effective tactic is to have the local coodinator choose a known public location (like a public library or coffee shop) where interested people can gather and be briefed by the local coodinator and given a flyer or a pamphlet of the houses or buildings open for visiting.

We at GLREA think these Solar Tours are a very effective way of educating people about solar and securing new clients for our business members. When prospective solar homeowners can talk to other homeowners about why they installed a solar system, this can go a long way in convincing people to make the investment. GLREA will be disccusing about setting up solar home tours in the spring and summer. So stay tune!

Ann Arbor - Saturday, Oct 14th. Go to www.AnnArborSolarTour.org for tour sites. Contact Karen Watanabe for more info KareneWatanabe@gmail.com

Chelsea - Tour starts at Chelsea District Library, 221 S. Main. Contact Cary Church for more info cshurch@comcast.net

Commerce Twp - Visit a 100% solar energy home at 509 Sherbrooke St, Commerce. Contact Mark Hagerty for more info Mhagerty@michigansolarsolutions.com and visit a home featured by Sheri Margolis on FOX 2 News at 4522 Racewood Dr, Commerce. Contact Don King for more info 313 820-4526.

Clarkston - Visit a home that has solar and the all new LG Chem and STORedge battery. 8221 Foster Rd, Clarkston. Contact Jessie Smith for more info 734 478-8708

Detroit - www.detroitgreenmap.com/DetSolarTour Contact Ben Dueweke for more info duewekeb@gmail.com

Fowlerville - Saturday Oct. 14 from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm. Home and business tour; solar, wind, biomass, rainwater collection and organic farming. 10192 Sargent Rd, Fowlerville. Contact Tom Reinke for more info selfreliantenergy@yahoo.com 517 256-2322

Grand Rapids - Contact Mike Linsea for more info solarmike@mei.net 269 664-8000

Mid-Michigan - Visit a "net zero" energy building at 11780 NW Monroe St in Riverdale, MI. Contact Mark Hagerty for more info Mhagerty@michigansolarsolutions.com

Ypsilanti - Visit up to 36 homes within Ypsilanti. Contact Dave Strenski for more info Dave@strenski.com 734 383-9077

Thank you to our GLREA Solar Home Tour Sponsors:

Art Toy - Four Elements Energy www.fourelements-energy.com

Mark Haggerty - MI Solar Solutions www.michigansolarsolutions.com

TJ Kanczuzewski - Inovateus Solar www.inovateussolar.com

Don King - Solar King www.solarkingmi.com

Mike & Roz Linsea - Solar Winds www.thesolarwinds.com

If you have any questions please contact John Freeman at Jfreeman13@comcast.net.

Michigan PSC Continues to Work on Determining the Distributive Energy Tariff

The Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) has been holding a series of meetings of stakeholders in Lansing as part of the year long process of studying and ultimately determining the amount of the so called ‘distributive energy tariff.’ The Public Service Commission was ordered to conduct this process by the Michigan Legislature in Public Act 341 and 342 that were enacted in December 2016.

The key determination of this process is to decide whether renewable energy users are paying their fair share to maintain the ‘grid’ or network of electrical wires that distribute electricity, or not. This ‘distributive energy tariff’ is very important to the future of renewable energy in Michigan. If this tariff is set high it could undermine the economics of installing a solar or wind system. But if the benefits of solar and wind energy are appropriately valued, the tariff could be a very modest amount and it will facilitate the continued expansion of renewable in Michigan, which means more jobs will be created, less expensive electricity is generated and a cleaner environment will be developed.

GLREA recently sent a letter to the PSC after the PSC requested comments from interested parties. I am attaching a slightly edited version of the Letter that was submitted. I thought you would be interested.
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Ms. Julie Baldwin November 3, 2017

Michigan Public Service Commission
7109 W. Saginaw Highway
PO Box 30221
Lansing, MI 48909

Dear Ms. Baldwin:

This letter is being sent in response to the request from Michigan Public Service Commission Staff (PSC) for comments on the MPSC Proposed Distributed Generation (DG) Program Concept Tariff.

The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association (GLREA) is a trade association of renewable energy businesses that install or provide component parts of renewable energy systems, mainly solar, wind and geothermal. The vast majority of our members are not large businesses but are small business that have been started and have grown as the market for renewable energy has expanded as homeowners, farmers and business have realized the financial and environmental benefits of investing in a renewable energy system.

These renewable energy businesses do most if not all of their work in Michigan, creating jobs and promoting economic development in the areas they operate within. They have seen steady growth in their business operation but are very concerned about the impact on their business and their customers if the distributed energy tariff that is designed and promulgated by the PSC, doesn’t reflect the true benefits of solar energy to the owners of solar energy systems but also to rate payers across the State, and only serves to undercut the economics of solar and distorting the market demand for solar.

Across Michigan, the United States and around the World a fundamental transformation is occurring where our civilization is moving away from carbon based energy production to clean renewable energy that can be generated at less cost with virtually no harmful impact to the environment.

But not all stakeholders in the energy field fully understand or appreciate this transformation and are operating to undercut this change because they are thinking in the short-term and only within their self-interest and not the greater interest of our State or country as a whole.

This is why the work of the Michigan Public Service Commission is critical as it carries out the legislative directive in designing the Distributive Energy Tariff.

As one GLREA member, Rob Rafson stated in recent testimony to the PSC: “This is a watershed moment for the MPSC, who has been given a rare opportunity to pave a path forward to a more sustainable future…”

The operating legislative principle for designing this Tariff is to “conduct a study on an appropriate tariff reflecting equitable cost of service for utility revenue requirements for customers who participate in a distributive generation program.”

GLREA urges the PSC as it develops the distributive energy tariff, to keep foremost in mind the definition of equitable – “fair to all parties as dictated by reason and conscience” as well as the role of this distributive generation tariff in promoting the PSC’s Mission of ‘growing Michigan’s economy and enhancing the quality of life within its communities.’

Comments

Stakeholders have been asked to comment on a Proposed DG Concept Tariff. This is a difficult task for two reasons.

  1. The Staff Concept Proposal is essentially a framework with very little detail. Staff want to use an ‘Inflow-Outflow’ billing mechanism where a DG Customer pays retail rate for inflow that “may need” to be adjusted to reflect the cost of service of a DG customer as compared to the residential rate class as a whole and would include a “distributive generation provision with an appropriate adjustment to power supply and distributive charges.” The only indication regarding the credit for outflow is that the proposal would require a DG customer to always pay a ‘monthly customer charge.’ This framework may work but it will depend on the allocated cost amounts that fill in this framework i.e. the cost of service for solar DG customers and the value or benefit to the utility that is attributed to solar energy generated by a DG customer.
  1. This then leads us to the second reason why commenting is challenging. The ‘Cost of Service’ study has not been fully completed by PSC staff. We feel that even before we consider a framework for rate design, that Cost of Service should be completed and stakeholders have a chance to comment. We need to more fully understand how PSC Staff values what the cost and potential benefits are for a DG customer and to a Utility, where solar energy is generated and a portion is exported to the grid to be reused by the Utility.

Comments Regarding Cost and Benefit Allocation

The work that must be done by the PSC in developing the distributed energy tariff, as stipulated by Public Acts 341 and 342 is really nothing new. This distributive energy tariff and its predecessor net metering is just the latest alliteration of the PURPA federal law that established a policy to encourage third party generation of energy that can be uploaded to the grid that will reduce cost and save ratepayers money and in return third party energy producers are entitled to receive a fee for this energy that represents the ‘avoided cost-price’ to the utility.

The distributive energy tariff should be designed to similarly encourage and support the expansion of third party energy generation on an individual basis by a residential homeowner, business or farmer.

One significant difference between this new generation of ‘third party generators’ and the ones that PURPA encourage is that these third party generators are primarily producing power for themselves and only exporting a portion of that power to the utility. This complicates the cost-of-service analysis and in determining the avoided cost-price but it still must be done and it must be done accurately and ‘equitably.’

The challenge is to evaluate and measure the long-term impacts of distributive energy on the utility’s cost of service. These must include the benefit to a utility from DG because future costs of service are avoided as well any additional cost to the utility for maintaining the grid as a result of DG.

As Douglas Jester stated “If rate design is based on charges for inflow and credits for outflow, then these bill elements should match the cost of service for inflow and outflow so that pricing signals are accurate and rate design scales to solar system size relative to customer consumption.” This is critically important for the individual in deciding whether to invest in a renewable energy system.

The market for solar will react to the “price signals” that this DG tariff establishes. The PSC must get this right to support the market expansion of renewable energy.

Solar energy is the most productive during the long summer days when demand for energy is the highest. Excess solar energy that is generated and exported to the grid, should therefore be credited based upon the time of day and/or year produced. The savings to the utility through the direct reduction of fuel, labor and other costs during peak summer months of high demand reduces costs for the entire system and should therefore be allocated to the DG customers that generate those savings.

Distribution costs for the utility are greatly reduced by solar because solar produces power when the grid is most stressed. Solar energy reduces line losses, improves power quality and increases distribution capacity at critical times thus reducing the need by the utility for additional investments in distribution infrastructure thus lowering the distribution costs for all customers. This benefit or savings to the utility should be counted against the distribution charge for rate-payers with solar power.

The Service Charge for a DG customer grows as a proportion of their bill as their (in-flow) usage is reduced. An average residential DG customer often generates 100% of their own energy usage over the course of a year, with the result that the customer service charge is nearly their entire bill. Since the service charge is a fixed amount, GLREA contends that a DG customer is being overcharged. A more equitably approach is to levy this charge in proportion to energy used from the grid. DG customers provide grid support, improve power quality, reduce operating and environmental costs. These cost savings benefit all customers but these cost savings are not properly credited to DG customers. A credit against Service Charge should be allocated in proportion to the DG customer’s percentage of usage offset by solar generation.

Conclusion

GLREA recognizes the importance of the transition to increased renewable energy for the Michigan economy and jobs. More and more electric utility customers are demanding access to renewable energy to meet corporate, government or personal goals. GLREA believes it is in the best interest of Michigan utilities and their customers to encourage the use of renewable energy to meet the demands of existing customers and attract new customers. The Distributed Generation Program will be key to continuing the transition to increased renewables and should therefore be structured in a way that continued growth is encouraged.

We appreciate the opportunity to comment and look forward to our continual participation in the Distributive Generation Energy Tariff Workgroup.

Very truly yours,

David Konkle
President of GLREA
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GLREA will continue to be an active participant in this PSC process and will keep you posted on developments. If you have any questions or would like to be added to the email distribution list that the PSC sends out notices and materials, just contact John Freeman at Jfreeman13@comcast.net.

GLREA Annual Membership Drive

Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association is launching its annual Membership Drive. For GLREA to carry out its mission of expanding renewable enegy in Michigan, we need all supporters to become a member. This organization is only as strong as its membership so we need all current members to renew their dues between now and December and the dues will cover the 2018 year. We also want past members and new people to join the organization. Your dues money provides the funds for staff and for putting on events and activities. Please go to the membership link on this website and renew your dues or sign up as a member for the first time. Dues are tax deductible. If you have any questions please contact John Freeman Jfreeman13@comcast.net or call at 313 655-7945. Thank-you!

2017 GLREA Annual Membership Meeting

 
Please join us for the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association (GLREA). Come join us for lunch at the Lansing Brewery and celebrate another year of great work from GLREA in promoting and developing the expanded market for renewable energy in Michigan. We will be highlighting the work we did in 2017 and what our plans are for next year. The meeting will include a GLREA organizational update, election of new Board members, GLREA Annual Awards and interesting Speakers. Go to the Home Page and Click on Learn More for the Annual Membership Meeting, or Click on the link below. I look forward to seeing you on December 2nd in Lansing. Thank-you!

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