Michigan, more exactly Detroit, is known as motor city and rock city. This history conjures images of black leather, KISS and an awful lot of gasoline. Former Michiganders have complained about how wide the streets are, how little public transportation exists and how cold it gets in the winter. But the state is working to rebrand itself. While not pulling away from its history as a rock and roll heartland, Michigan is trying to diversify its industries, and one of the most attractive industries is the renewable energy industry. It’s also offering incentives for home and property owners to go solar to help foster the industry and meet the state’s renewable energy standard (RES).
Under the RES, all of Michigan’s utilities must source at least 10 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2015. And the state has its work cut out for it. By late 2011, only 4 percent of the state's energy came from renewable sources. State leaders are taking the issue seriously. They introduced a 2012 ballott measure that could more than double the requirement to 25 percent by 2025.
Hopefully the performance-based incentives, tax breaks, net-metering law and significant rebates offered by the state’s many utilities to meet their RES requirements will help Michiganders adopt solar and other renewables.
Currently, Michigan's energy mix is — well — mixed. The state’s major electric producers are coal-fired power plants, which provide three-fifths of its power needs; three nuclear power plants supply an additional quarter of its energy. But renewable energy remains a small part of Michigan’s energy market.
The majority of Michigan gets about four hours of direct sunlight per square meter per day, which is less than southern states but enough to warrant solar. The state also has decent wind for turbine generation, though Michigan’s wind capacity is significantly lower than states to its west. As a northern state with cold winters, Michigan also incentivizes insulation and energy efficiency investment for homes and buildings to help reduce their energy use.
The state’s industrial history and position on the Great Lakes make it an ideal location for developing new industries and it could be a great location for wind and solar manufacturing. To that end, Michigan offers incentives to attract renewable industries. Renewable Energy Renaissance Zones provide businesses significant tax incentives to develop renewable manufacturing facilities in the state. Despite such efforts, the state has not yet established itself as a green energy manufacturing capital and faces stiff competition from other states like California, Colorado and Ohio.
|Program Type||Industry recruitment / support|
|Amount||25 percent of the capital costs for building a qualifying PV manufacturing facility. Usually pays up to $15 million, but one certificate can be up to $25 million. Maximum benefit issued over three years can't exceed $75 million.|
|Required Documentation||Credit typically taken over two years in equal installments. Minimum capital investment and job creation requirements apply.|
|Official Web Site||http://www.michiganadvantage.org/Solar-Energy/|
Michigan is trying to leverage is position as a historic manufacturing and research and development hub by entising solar panel manufacturers into existing and empty facilities left behind by the auto industry.
The law allows PV manufacturers to claim a tax credit against the Michigan Business Tax.
|Program Type||Net Metering|
|Technologies||Photovoltiacs, other renewables|
|Required Documentation||Interconnection agreement with utility and approval|
|Official Web Site||http://www.michigan.gov/netmetering|
Michigan’s net-metering law allows for renewable system owners to net meter systems up to 150 kW in size. Under the law, monthly net excess generation of systems up to 20 kW is credited toward a customer’s retail rate or time-of-use rate toward the customer’s future electric consumption for an indefinite period.
The law does not require customers to be reimbursed for excess production on any regular basis. Customers may reach an agreement with their utility to be reimbursed for such generation. But if a customer chooses to leave the utility and opt for another utility or go off-grid, the utility must refund the customer the remaining credit amount.
At present, the net-metering law only applies to alternative electric suppliers and rate-regulated utilities, which includes investor-owned utilities. The law includes net metering for a broad swath of renewables including solar, anaerobic digester gas, wind, biomass, geothermal, landfill gas, municipal solid waste and hydroelectric.
Applicants must sign a standard interconnection agreement with their utility to be eligible for net metering.
Personal Tax Credit
Property Tax Exemption
State Grant Program
Local Grant Program
Local Loan Program
State Loan Program
Utility Rebate Program
Rules, Regulations & Policies
Building Energy Code
Energy Standards for Public Buildings
Green Power Purchasing/Aggregation
Public Benefits Fund
Renewables Portfolio Standard
Solar/Wind Permitting Standards
Related Programs & Initiatives
The U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center (AFDC) provides a wide range of information and resources to enable the use of alternative fuels and other petroleum-reduction options, such as advanced vehicles, fuel blends, idle reduction and fuel economy. The AFDC site offers a database of state and federal laws and incentives related to alternative fuels and vehicles, air quality, fuel efficiency, and other transportation-related topics.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Green Power Network provides news and information on green power markets and activities, including opportunities to buy green power. This site provides state-by-state information on green power marketing and utility green power programs. In addition, the site lists marketers of renewable energy credits (RECs), also known as green tags or renewable energy certificates, which represent the environmental attributes of the power produced from renewable energy projects.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) enables low-income families to reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy-efficient. Through this program, weatherization service providers install energy-efficiency measures in the homes of qualifying homeowners free of charge. The WAP program web site offers a state-by-state map of opportunities, projects and activities.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Powering America site provides state-by-state information on wind projects and activities, including wind working groups, validated wind maps, anemometer loan programs, small wind guides, state-specific news, wind for schools, workshops and web casts.