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Energy in the news: Friday, August 21

Are robot cars good for the environment?

Great Lakes Echo

Cars that drive themselves may be safer, smarter and more efficient than those driven by people.

But will they be better for the environment?

It’s a question with no solid answer, said John DeCicco, a research professor at the University of Michigan’s Energy Institute, and a board member of the university’s MCity – an entire city for the testing of the vehicles, complete with cutouts of pedestrians and stoplights.

Some aspects of the vehicles could greatly reduce energy use and emissions, while other aspects could increase emissions, said DeCicco.

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Clean energy expected to power up more jobs in Michigan

Crain’s Detroit Business

Mark Barteau, director of the University of Michigan Energy Institute, said the EPA Clean Power Plan could significantly boost renewable energy in Michigan. But he said the state should aim for even loftier goals.

Earlier this year, the Energy Institute issued a report that outlined opportunities for significantly increasing electricity production from wind and solar sources, Barteau said.

The UM plan said Michigan would meet the final EPA requirements easily by 2030 by simply establishing a renewable energy portfolio standard of 25 percent by 2025. Average cost increases per household would be $2.60 per month by 2025, or a 3 percent price hike.

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GOP bills seek new approach, not mandates, to renewable energy

Crain’s Detroit Business

Mark Barteau, director of the University of Michigan Energy Institute, said the EPA’s Clean Power Plan adds powerful incentives for utilities to significantly invest in additional renewable energy in the state.

But Barteau said the pending legislation that removes PA 295’s mandates for energy efficiency and renewable energy — along with changing the method by which residential and small business rooftop solar is reimbursed by utilities — could work to reduce investment in alternative electricity sources.

“Replacing the renewable portfolio standard with an integrated resource plan system and gutting net metering will have a negative impact on renewable power generation in Michigan, will harm renewable energy companies, and will make it harder to meet EPA requirements,” Barteau said.

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Michigan emerges as a leader in battery storage industry, research

Midwest Energy News

Its automotive history may have positioned Michigan as a natural laboratory for advancing the latest in battery storage for cars, but other sectors are pushing the state onto the global energy-storage stage.

Officials here anticipate further growth for an industry that just a few years ago struggled to find its footing, with public-private partnerships to make advances in a variety of sectors, including renewables and consumer electronics.

While advances in battery-storage technology is turning traditional ways of thinking about energy generation and consumption on its head, experts hope policymakers and utilities will keep pace and brace for change rather than resist it until its too late.

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Are we all subsidizing solar customers? Committee to examine subsidies as part of net metering debate

MLive

Supporters of rooftop solar took their concerns about a bill that would change how solar owners interact with the grid to the Senate Energy and Technology Committee on Wednesday.

“This bill is anti-capitalism, anti-American, anti-solar,” said Dan Zimmer, a West Olive resident who owns a 10 kilowatt solar installation.

He participates in net metering, a program which currently allows people to use the energy they produce and sell back any extra renewable energy at retail rate. Under Senate Bill 438, solar owners would have to buy all of their energy from the utility at retail rate and sell the energy they produce at wholesale levels to the utilities.

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