Michigan bill proposes residential solar-plus-storage credits


Two Michigan representatives have introduced bills that would significantly slash the cost of residential solar and energy storage systems for low- and moderate-income (LMI) ratepayers. The bills would encourage widespread adoption of these technologies as a means of bolstering resiliency, reducing pollution and lowering energy costs.

State representatives Jenn Hill (D-Marquette) and Donavan McKinney (D-Detroit) introduced HB 4840, which would require utilities to offer rebates to customers to  offset the costs of solar and storage systems by thousands of dollars.

A companion bill, HB 4839, would require the Michigan Public Service Commission to create a virtual power plant (VPP) system which would aggregate solar plus battery systems into the grid when needed.

McKinney’s bill, HB 4840, would establish a rebate to customers of $500 per kW for a new solar system and $300 per kWh for a new battery storage system, which would be doubled for LMI customers.

The companion bill introduced by Hill would support a VPP framework, including load reduction, demand response and voltage support.

“An in-home battery paired with solar can keep vital medical equipment or refrigerators full of food running for days, protecting households during outages cause by extreme weather,” Hill said. “As an additional benefit, behind-the-meter storage systems can provide excess power back to the grid during periods of peak energy demand.”

“These bills will help build a more equitable and just Michigan while also making our state greener,” McKinney said. “In recent years, my district has been heavily impacted by power outages due to wind, ice and other causes, which have hindered many residents’ access to power. This legislation mitigates against those negative consequences. It also ensures that low-income areas receive opportunities to access alternative energy.”

The new legislation would boost Michigan’s residential solar market. Net metering ended in the state in 2018, replaced by the “Distributed Generation Program.” This program is similar to net metering because solar users get credit for all the excess energy they send to the grid—but only during the day. The credits vary by utility and are used to offset the power supply portion of their electric bills.

Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer in the Spring of 2022 announced the Michigan Healthy Climate Plan, which proposes that the state gets to 60% renewable energy resources and build infrastructure to accommodate millions of electric vehicles by 2030. The state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) states that 15% of the state’s energy consumption must be from renewable sources.

Through Q1 2023, Michigan ranked 25th in the U.S. for solar development, with 1.04 GW of total installations and a 2.61 GW pipeline of projects to be deployed over the next five years, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

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