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New Report: Michigan Could Capture Greater Share of Growing Corporate Renewable Energy Market

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Analysis shows opportunity for investment and economic growth with policies that make it easier for large companies to use wind and solar to power their operations in Michigan

[Washington, D.C. – February 2, 2016]: Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), a national business association, today released a market brief on Michigan’s Corporate Market for Renewable Energy, which highlights the potential of this growth market and outlines simple changes in state policies that could significantly expand private investment in the state. By allowing more companies in Michigan to participate in the state’s Retail Open Access market or establish agreements with their utility provider, and by raising the restrictive limit on the renewable energy installations that qualify for the state’s net metering program, Michigan could unleash its renewable energy potential and drive private investment, job creation, and economic growth in the state, according to the report.

An increasing number of major corporations have set sustainability targets that involve powering their operations with renewable energy, which translates into significant demand for new renewable energy development. As of 2014, 43 percent of Fortune 500 companies and 60 percent of Fortune 100 companies had set climate and/or clean energy targets; 49 major corporations representing a market capitalization of $1.5 trillion, have signed on to the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles.

The Michigan Market Brief highlights many well-known companies with a commitment to renewable energy sources as part of their corporate sustainability goals that have a presence in Michigan, including Google, Switch, Nestle, and Ikea. In addition, many of the largest firms headquartered in Michigan – including General Motors, Ford Motor Co., Dow Chemical Co., and Whirlpool – are actively seeking additional renewable energy sources to power their operations. Michigan companies with more than 500 employees account for more than one-quarter of total electricity demand, representing a large potential market for direct purchase of renewable energy. 

Some of Michigan’s largest corporations, including Herman Miller, Amway, and Dow Chemical, have been able to purchase renewable energy from independent power producers under Michigan’s Retail Open Access programs. However, most Electric Choice programs in Michigan — including those operated by DTE and Consumers Energy, which together serve over 80 percent of Michigan electricity customers — have reached their limits and are closed to new participants. Other companies in Michigan have opted to build their own sources of renewable power. GM has developed 11 solar projects totaling over 2 megawatts at its facilities across the state, and IKEA has built the state’s largest solar array—a 977 kilowatt (kW) project—at its Canton store. But other companies are discouraged from investing in renewable energy systems that can meet significant portions of their electric power needs because Michigan allows only systems smaller than 150 kW to qualify for net metering credits.

Michigan could easily enable market growth by:

  • Allowing local companies to purchase renewable energy from independent producers or contract with their utility for renewable power
  • Lifting the restrictive limit on system capacity for net metering, to make it feasible for companies to generate more of their energy on-site.

“Michigan could easily capture a significant share of the major corporate purchasing that is driving expansion of renewable energy markets elsewhere in the country,” said Anna Giovinetto, Senior Director, State Industry Analysis, for Advanced Energy Economy. “This report identifies policy solutions that don’t require government mandates. Rather, Michigan can capture the economic benefits of corporate renewable energy purchasing simply by eliminating outdated regulatory barriers.”

“Our experience in other states has shown us that opening the market to enable corporate renewable energy purchasing attracts significant private investment, grows the state’s clean energy sector, and yields substantial economic development, including jobs,” said Steve Vavrik, Chief Commercial Officer at Apex Clean Energya leading independent renewable energy company focused on building utility-scale generation facilities. “Michigan now has the opportunity to join these states in taking this important step forward, and we would encourage them to explore these options.”

“At General Motors, we believe in the economic benefits that come with significant investment in and deployment of renewable energy,” said Rob Threlkeld, Global Renewable Energy Manager, GM. "Opening Michigan’s market to enable even greater corporate use of clean power would spur additional investment in Michigan, grow the state’s clean energy sector, and yield substantial job growth."

The report, based on analysis by Meister Consulting Group for AEE, is available here.

About Advanced Energy Economy
Advanced Energy Economy is a national association of businesses that are making the energy we use secure, clean, and affordable. Advanced energy encompasses a broad range of products and services that constitute the best available technologies for meeting energy needs today and tomorrow. AEE’s mission is to transform public policy to enable rapid growth of advanced energy businesses. AEE and its State and Regional Partner organizations are active in 26 states across the country, representing more than 1,000 companies and organizations in the advanced energy industry. Visit AEE online at www.aee.net

Media Contact:
Monique Hanis, 202-391-0884, mhanis@aee.net

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