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Michigan Joins 11 Other States to Examine Electricity Planning for Optimized Grid

Feb. 16, 2021
Grid planning to increase reliability for customers, allow seamless integration of renewable energy resources.

Michigan's energy future will require a more resilient, efficient electric grid that adapts to distributed sources of power generation. To that end, Michigan joined 11 states across the country in exploring the comprehensive electricity planning that will be required for states to create a more optimized grid that is also more affordable for customers.

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) participated in the nationwide Task Force on Comprehensive Electricity Planning, a joint effort by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO). State energy officials from Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota, and other states participated in the task force, which has been meeting since November 2018.

Growth in distributed energy resources (DERs) such as solar, wind, battery storage and energy efficiency require regulatory and policy innovation and a greater emphasis on planning to overcome system complexities and avoid unnecessary costs associated with operating the grid.

"Michigan's transition from large, centralized power plants to smaller, distributed sources of electricity is already well underway," said MPSC Chair Dan Scripps. "Electric utilities in the state have made significant pledges to move toward clean energy in the coming years and this shift will require a regulatory framework based on innovation, adaptability, affordability, and fairness — all goals we've begun addressing as part of the MPSC’s MI Power Grid initiative."

"Comprehensive grid planning will increase reliability for customers and also allow for continued seamless integration of renewable energy resources such as wind, solar, and storage," said EGLE Director Liesl Clark. "The accelerating pace of change in the energy industry is having broad impacts on all Michiganders. We need to make sure the transition is equitable for all communities and at the same time is protective of our state's environmental resources."

States are exploring their own approaches. In Michigan, the areas being explored include:

  • MI Power Grid, the multi-year effort led by the MPSC to maximize the benefits of the transition to clean DERs for Michigan residents and businesses. MI Power Grid's efforts to align planning processes were initiated in 2020 and further work is expected to incorporate learnings from stakeholder forums and the NARUC-NASEO roadmaps into utility planning processes.
  • Focusing on equity by ensuring that, through the increased engagement of impacted communities in the development of energy projects and access to clean energy, all communities and residents benefit from the ongoing energy transition. The Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate within EGLE will work collaboratively to ensure environmental justice is prioritized and that there is equitable application of regulations, laws, and policies. The office is developing an Environmental Justice Screening Tool for Michigan that will play a role in targeting opportunities.
  • Incorporating goals laid out in September by Governor Gretchen Whitmer in her MI Healthy Climate initiative into the utility integrated resource planning process, including putting Michigan on a path toward being carbon neutral by 2050.

In addition to improving grid reliability and resilience, the task force's goals included focusing on avoiding unnecessary costs for ratepayers, supporting states' policy priorities, and increasing the transparency of grid-related investments.

To learn more about the task force, visit here.

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