The number of customers selling electricity back to the grid in Michigan climbed again in 2016, according to an annual report released by the state last month. The state’s net-metering program, which lets ratepayers sell surplus power back to the grid at retail prices, added 427 customers and nearly 5 megawatts of capacity, most of it from solar. While the state’s total solar capacity doubled last year through utility-scale projects, net-metering momentum is at risk after 2018, as the state prepares to replace net metering with a tariff aimed at better reflecting the value of solar and other forms of distributed generation. The Michigan Public Service Commission spent much of 2017 designing a replacement for the state’s decade-old net metering program, a requirement under the state’s sweeping 2016 energy law. The net-metering debate has revolved around whether customers’ use of solar panels is being subsidized by other ratepayers, or if the systems provide a net benefit to the electric grid.
The Ludington Pumped Storage hydroelectric facility in western Michigan is a clean and renewable energy source that should receive credits for its ability to reduce carbon emissions, according to various state and federal lawmakers. But amid comprehensive energy policy proposals at the federal and state levels, debate swirls over whether the operation along Lake Michigan is actually clean or renewable.
Michigan’s two largest investor-owned utilities are seeking a change in the way electricity rates are set that would effectively raise rates on residential customers and decrease rates for industrial users.
Michigan’s first proposed large-scale community solar program is coming under fire from clean-energy advocates who say it would prevent independent third parties from developing their own programs.