March 2018 Newsletter

Welcome to the monthly newsletter of the Michigan Energy Efficiency Contractors Association (MEECA). Read on for a summary of what's happening.

Re-cap of MEECA's 4th Annual Gala & Awards Ceremony

More than 100 members and supporters of MEECA gathered on March 6th for the organization’s premier networking event. This year’s Title Sponsor was DNV GL.

 

“It was great to see so many friends and colleagues catching up with each other,” said executive director David Gard. Referring to the evening’s dinner program, he added, “We also wanted to highlight where the industry is headed. So, we were privileged to have three members of the Michigan Public Service Commission staff as our expert panelists.”

 

These MPSC experts, speaking about the evolving role of demand-side energy resources in Michigan, included Pat Poli, Acting Manager of the Generation & Certificate of Need Section; Karen Gould, Acting Manager of the Energy Waste Reduction Section; and Dave Isakson, Analyst, Rates and Tariff. Moderating the panel was former MEECA president Brad Bartholomew.

 

The evening also included an awards ceremony to recognize superior performance by MEECA members during the previous year. Congratulations again to our 2018 award winners:

 

Pictures from this year’s Gala can be viewed at the MEECA photo gallery.
 

Finally, thank you to everyone who joined us for the 2018 Annual Gala & Awards Ceremony! And a special thanks to all of our generous sponsors shown below.

Energy Efficiency in the News

CEO of Walker-Miller Energy Services Featured in Detroit Free Press

Carla Walker-Miller of MEECA member Walker-Miller Energy Services was recently highlighted in a Detroit Free Press article subtitled, “The backstory of a black female entrepreneur's rugged path to profit.”

 

The story describes Walker-Miller’s journey, begun in 2000, to build a company that now operates in three states with nearly 90 employees, generates $24 million in annual revenues, and turns a consistent profit. A key theme is how she pivoted her business model to take advantage of energy optimization programs after these were established by state legislation.

 

The article quotes Walker-Miller as saying, “Service businesses are built on the people and the expertise. It’s a much more sustainable business model." The success of her company certainly points to the energy efficiency industry’s positive impact on economic development in Michigan.

 

To read the full story, visit the Detroit Free Press website.

 

Michigan Farmers Benefit from EE Programs

Brownfield Ag News, the nation’s largest agricultural news radio network, recently interviewed Chuck Lippstreu with the Michigan Agri-Business Association’s about ongoing efforts to save energy. Speaking about the agricultural sector’s use of utility efficiency programs, Lippstreu said, “We have members, large users of energy, saving tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars on an annual basis just on their energy line.”

 

According to Lippstreu, Michigan’s food and ag processing industry continues to grow. Therefore, interest is strong in both energy efficiency and renewable technologies to deliver affordable, reliable energy.

 

The article and audio interview with Mr. Lippstreu can be found at the Brownfield Ag News website.

 

Update on Ground-Source Heat Pump Federal Tax Credits

The U.S. Congress recently reinstated ground-source heat pump (GSHP) tax credits. These credits, 30 percent for residential projects and 10 percent for commercial ones, were part of the $320 million continuing resolution.

 

The residential incentive is retroactive to January 1, 2017 and will drop to 26 percent in 2020, 22 percent in 2021 and expire on December 31, 2021. On the commercial side, the current credit will remain until January 1, 2022.

 

For more details and context on these GSHP tax credits, see this article in Distribution Center magazine.

 

 Award-winning Home Near Ann Arbor

In December, a farmhouse in Lodi Township near Ann Arbor became the second home in the world to receive Living Building Challenge certification through the nonprofit International Living Future Institute. This is described as the world’s most rigorous performance standard for buildings, encouraging “regenerative design.”

 

The house consumes no fossil fuels and instead relies on passive solar design, integrated photovoltaic and geothermal heat to meet all heat and power demand. The project has also achieved LEED Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. Its high performance is the result of a collaboration that included an architect, builder, green building consultant, and several building science engineers.

 

For more information, see the recent story on MLive.

Public Policy Update

Low-Income Energy Efficiency Stakeholder Group Announced

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) has announced a new Low-Income Energy Efficiency Workgroup that will explore sector-specific energy waste reduction measures and create new initiatives designed to reduce the cost of energy burden on Michigan’s low-income customers and communities.

 

According to MPSC, the stakeholder group “will combine the expertise and experience of State agencies, utility providers, and other energy and low income stakeholder groups, and connect these various entities to attempt to bridge gaps between program offerings, facilitate more complete delivery of these energy efficiency programs, and seek opportunities to better serve low income and multi-family buildings.”

 

MEECA executive director David Gard will attend the kick-off meeting at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, April 6, 2018.

 

Anyone is welcome to participate either in person or by conference call. If you have questions or would like to participate, contact Brad Banks with MPSC’s Energy Waste Reduction Section at 517-28f4-8118.

 

Update on Michigan Code of Conduct Rules

Last summer MEECA participated in a stakeholder process to develop code of conduct rules for utility companies and alternative electric suppliers that offer value-added programs in unregulated markets. MEECA submitted comments on behalf of our members in July. These comments can be viewed at the MPSC website.

 

Since then the draft rules have been reviewed by the Office of Regulatory Reinvention (ORR). Currently the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) is waiting for the Legislative Services Bureau (LSB) to finish its review. Then MPSC will issue an order to initiate a formal rulemaking procedure. This order will publish the proposed rules, provide notice to the public, and set up a public comment period and public hearing dates.

 

Stay tuned to MEECA for more information about the upcoming MPSC order. In the meantime, the draft rules as submitted to ORR and LSB can be reviewed at the State of Michigan website.

Project Spotlight

This month we highlight the latest PACE-financed success story in Michigan.

 

The St. Clair Inn is a centerpiece of the City of St. Clair and St. Clair County. Once an active landmark in the community, the building has been vacant for years. Now it has become the largest project in Michigan to be financed using Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE.

 

The $5.5 million PACE project was recently announced as part of a larger effort by Planet Clair, LLC, owned by developer Jeff Katofsky, to restore this registered historic landmark from 1926. Interestingly, the St. Clair Inn was the first hotel in the nation with central air conditioning. Thanks to PACE, it will now upgrade to an efficient, state-of-the-art cooling system. Other features will include LED lighting, energy-efficient appliances and water-saving measures.

 

Once the full renovation has been completed, the owners of the St. Clair Inn expect to support 150 year-round and 100 seasonal employees. Visit the website of MEECA member Lean & Green Michigan to read the full case study of this inspirational project.

Upcoming Events and Opportunities

The Fourth Annual Michigan Energy Summit

8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. April 18, 2018 in Grand Rapids, MI

The 2018 Energy Summit celebrates the 2017 Michigan Battle of the Buildings ‘biggest losers’ and welcomes the new 2018 competitors.

 

Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Loans and Grants

Application deadline: April 30, 2018

This federal program provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements.

 

Michigan EIBC’s 6th Annual Member Meeting

April 30, 2018 in Lansing, MI followed by a Lobby Day on May 1st

 

2018 Michigan Commercial & Industrial Energy Conference (Upper Peninsula)

April 4, 2018 at Island Resort & Casino near Escanaba, MI

 

Michigan Geothermal Energy Association Annual Conference

April 24-25, 2018 at Soaring Eagle Resort in Mt. Pleasant, MI

(Download the registration form by scrolling to bottom of the link provided.)

 

Michigan Energy Efficiency Conference and Exhibition

8:00 a.m.—3:00 p.m. on May 8, 2018 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, MI

Hosted by DTE Energy and The Engineering Society of Detroit

 

SAVE-THE-DATE: MEECA Members-only facility tour and PACE financing session

May 10, 2018 at The Whitney Restaurant in Detroit, MI

 

2018 Michigan Commercial & Industrial Energy Conference (Lower Peninsula)

May 17, 2018 at FireKeepers Casino Hotel in Battle Creek, MI

 

SAVE-THE-DATE: MEECA 2nd Annual Summer Golf Outing

July 18, 2018 at Hawk Hollow Championship Course in Bath, MI