Solar windows made in Michigan, Why Michigan has fewer electric vehicles, lifting the state's solar cap

CO2 2022/2021 420.87 ppm / 418.37 ppm


Solar windows: Researchers at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University are developing transparent solar panels that could be used in place of normal windows, dramatically increasing the surface area available for solar energy on buildings. “(I)f a building can create its own energy with a component that it has to have anyway, with windows, then this could be a really highly viable solution," said Diane Van Buren, a Detroit-based solar developer. Since people can only see a fraction of the electromagnetic spectrum, transparent panels can let the visible portions of light through while using the invisible rays to produce energy. If scalable, these technologies could transform energy production by eliminating the need for large solar farms and reducing the distance that electricity needs to be transported. (Detroit News)

Power cord: Michigan may benefit from expansion of transmission lines that could improve reliability and connect more renewable energy to the power grid. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), which manages energy transmission across 15 states and Manitoba, is proposing seven new transmission lines, including one that would come into Michigan from Indiana. Since Michigan is largely surrounded by water, getting a new transmission line is an electrifying proposition. "We get the largest increase in import capacity of any of the MISO zones under this plan," said Dan Scripps is Chairman of the Michigan Public Service Commission. "The risk of grid-scale outages like we saw in Texas and we see in California…..we never want to see that happen in Michigan." The proposal would increase rates for Michigan power customers, although Scripps said the amount would be small. MISO also included a “decarbonization benefit” in its planning, showing the transmission line could enable 8,300 megawatts of renewable energy, enough to power 1.8 million homes. (Michigan Radio)

Road block: Michigan’s high registration fees for electric vehicles could be hitting the brakes on widespread adoption of EVs in the state. Georgia, which has a similar population size as Michigan, registers 23,530 EVs while Michigan has just 10,620. New Jersey’s population is smaller and that state has 30,420 EVs. Michigan currently charges additional registration fees for electric vehicles to make up for lost taxes on fuel. The state also doesn’t provide incentives for purchasing electric vehicles like some other states, although Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has proposed doing so. (Michigan Radio

Solar monopolies: The nonprofit Michigan Environmental Council is calling to end Michigan’s cap on distributed generation, which limits how many residents with solar panels or other power sources can receive credit for excess energy sent back to the grid. The bipartisan House Bill 4236 would lift the cap, but Rep. Joe Bellino, chair of the House Energy Committee, is keeping the bill from advancing. DTE Energy has declined to lift its cap, which limits the amount of its peak energy load coming from distributed power to one percent. The utility is also trying to cut in half the credits that customers receive for energy sent back to the grid. In addition to disincentivizing renewable energy, the cap has created challenges for businesses that install solar panels. “I’ve got 52 employees with their families I’ve got to worry about," said Mark Hagerty, president of Michigan Solar Solutions. (Click on Detroit)


Michigander Brandy Brown carves out her climate niche

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