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Are You Looking to Install a Solar Energy System?

Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association (GLREA) is a trade association of businesses that install solar, wind and geothermal renewable energy systems. If you are interested in a renewable energy system and would like to learn more about how they work and how you can save money for your home, business or place of worship, then contact us and we can have one or more of our energy contractors get in touch with you. These energy professionals will explain how solar works (or wind and geothermal) and what the process is to install a system. They can also help you get a low-interest loan, if need it, to pay for the system. If you want to save money and help protect the environment then consider installing your own renewable energy system and generate your own power! Contact John Freeman for more information at Jfreeman13@comcast.net or by calling (313) 655-7945.

2018 GLREA Solar Home Tour and Open House

GLREA and American Solar Energy Society’s (ASES) held the 23rd Annual Solar Home Tour and Open House on October 6. Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association works with local volunteer coordinators to line up homes and businesses that members of the public can visit.

The purpose of this Tour and Open House is that it provides an opportunity for people to learn about solar by seeing a home or office with a solar system and by talking to the owner or the contractor that installed the solar system. The goal is to help homeowners and business learn how solar energy and energy efficiency can save money, lessen our dependence on fossil fuels and help prevent climate change.

Tours and Open Houses were held in the following communities:

Caro

Chelsea

Clarkston

Commerce

Detroit

Holland

Lansing

Linden

Livingston County

Riverdale

Saline

Traverse City

Ypsilanti

Thank you to our local coodinators and 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



DTE Proposes a Distributed Energy Tariff That Will Seriously Hurt Solar

The Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) announced its recommendation on April 18, 2018 on what the new 'distributed energy tariff’ should be that will eventually replace the current net metering system. The Public Service Commission was ordered to research, make a recommendation and oversee a rate case of deciding what this new ‘distributed Energy tariff will be for each utility, by the Michigan Legislature in Public Act 341 and 342 enacted in December 2016. 

The PSC recommended a new program called the 'In-Flow / Out-Flow’ billing mechanism.  When a customer buys energy from a utility (solar or non-solar) they will pay the normal retail rate (this is In-Flow).  But this In-Flow of electricity will be off set by any Out-Flow of electricity when a solar owner sells excess electricity from their solar system back to the utility.  The PSC has recommended that this Out-Flow electricity be compensated at the utility's avoided cost, which the PSC estimates at around 9.5 - 10 cents per kilowatt-hour.  This amount is less than the current net metering amount where a solar owner is compensated at the retail rate for selling electricity back to the utility. 

The next step in this process is that the utilities can make their own proposal on what they think is appropriate for the ‘distributed energy tariff.’  First up is DTE Energy and what they have proposed is outrageous and if the PSC approves it, it will hurt prospective solar owners by undermining the financial rationale for investing in a renewable energy system.

DTE has proposed that rather than paying 9.5 to 10 cents per kilowatt-hour that the PSC has recommended for extra solar electricity that is exported to the grid (Out-Flow), DTE only wants to pay the “locational marginal price” which essentially means the wholesale price of about 4 cents per kilowatt-hour.  On top of that, DTE is proposing a new monthly fee called a “system access charge” they want solar owners to pay.  The amount of this new fee would depend on the size of your solar system.  This new fee would be $2.30 per kilowatt size system a person owns.  So for a homeowner with a 6 to 8 kilowatt system, they would pay every month another $13.80 to $18.40. 

The combination of these two charges would undermine the economic rationale for installing a solar system, which very well may be the goal of DTE’s proposal. They are trying to stop homeowners and business from having the option of installing their own energy system so they generate their own electricity and not buy from DTE.  

The key issue is whether renewable energy users are paying their fair share to maintain the ‘grid’ (the network of electrical wires that distribute electricity), or not.  DTE argues that solar owners are not paying their fair share, whereas solar advocates contend that DTE is not being honest regarding the true value of the solar energy they get from solar owners.  DTE takes this excess solar electricity they receive from solar owners and turn right around and sell it at full retail rate.  This means that DTE may not have to bring on the older, expensive and in many cases dirtier plants when the demand for electricity is really high in the summer months when people are running their air conditioners.  This is when solar energy is most productive and most helpful to DTE and they continue to deny that this has value.  

The Public Service Commission must review DTE’s proposal and ultimately decide what the distributed tariff will be for DTE customers.  GLREA has intervened in this rate case and will be fighting tooth and nail DTE’s proposal.  But we will need your help and support, so be prepared to help out when called upon.

These rate cases generally take 10 months from start to finish so until April 2019, the current net metering rules will continue to operate and the amount of compensation that solar users are credited at for selling electricity back to DTE will be at the retail rate.  In addition, if a homeowner or business installs a renewable energy system prior to the implementation of this new distributed tariff, they can continue to operate under the current net metering rules for another 10 years.  Ten years is a decent amount of time for most solar owners to pay off their system in savings from not having to buy utility electricity.

This ‘distributed energy tariff’ is very important to the future of renewable energy in Michigan.  If this tariff is set too low, then it may take solar users longer to pay off their system, which could undermine the expansion of renewable energy in Michigan.  But on the other hand if DTE keeps pushing to pay the least amount to solar owners for their excess solar electricity and is successful in imposing this new “system access charge,” this could back fire on them because with the cost of battery storage coming down so dramatically, solar owners could add into their energy system battery storage, so rather than selling excess electricity to the utility, they just store it in the batteries and use it at night and cut out the utility all together. 

We will continue to keep you posted on developments. If you have any questions please contact John Freeman at Jfreeman13@comcast.net.

 

 

GLREA Membership Drive

Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association's mission, is to expand renewable energy in Michigan. We do this by educating homeowners, farmers and business about the benefits of renewable energy and we also work to develop public policy that supports the expansion of renewable energy. But for GLREA to do this work we need all supporters to become a member of this organization. GLREA is only as strong as its membership! We need all current members to renew their dues and we want new people to join the organization. Your dues money pays for staff and for putting on events and activities. Because we are a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dues are tax deductible. Please go to the membership link on this website and renew your dues or sign up as a member for the first time. If you have any questions please contact John Freeman Jfreeman13@comcast.net or call at 313 655-7945. Thank-you!

GLREA: 2018 Renewable Energy Photo Contest

GLREA is pleased to announce the 2018 Renewable Energy Photo Contest!

We are doing this for the simple reason that pictures of renewable energy systems are beautiful because they look serene and peaceful and we know by looking at them that they are generating clean electrical energy that doesn't pollute the environment or generate carbon dioxide that is causing climate change. It would be a major stretch to look at a picture of a coal operating powerplant and say that it is beautiful. But we can with solar systems and wind turbines. So we encourage all our Members or even Non-Members to submit pictures of your favorate renewable energy systems.

Here are the rules:

Photos must be taken in 2018 and they must be submitted by November 30, 2018. There are two categories of awards - Individual and Business. Each photo submitted must identify which category it falls under. Pictures submitted by an Individual must be of a renewable energy system, event or scene in Michigan. Pictures submitted by a Business must be of a renewable energy system they intalled or a renewable energy event they participated in. If submitted under the Business category, the business name must be included.

Each photo submitted must be indentified with the submitter's name, email address and a paragraph telling the story about the photo. Each contestant may submit up to 5 photo's in each category. Photo's should be submitted in a .jpg format and emailed to Dave Konkle at Konkle@toast.net.

Winners will be announced and prizes awarded at the GLREA Annual Meeting in December. Prizes will include Public Recognition, winning Pictures posted on the GLREA Website and a Plaque.

We encourage all Members to participate! This is a fun event but we take it seriously as part of our Mission of educating the public about solar and other forms of renewable energy, because as the old adage says 'a picture is worth a thousand words'!

If you have any further questions or comments contact John Freeman at Jfreeman13@comcast.net. Thanks!