September 13, 2019 Read More →

Utility settlement in Michigan will push 584MW of new solar onto the grid

Greentech Media:

Regulators in Michigan approved a settlement Wednesday compelling utility Consumers Energy to buy power from 584 megawatts of solar interconnected by September 1, 2023, multiplying by many times the 153 megawatts currently standing in the state.

The settlement ends a long disagreement about projects tied to the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), which requires utilities to pay regulator-approved “avoided cost” rates to qualifying solar facilities. Developers and solar advocates argued the Michigan utility wasn’t approving qualifying projects in a timely manner, while Consumers said a rush of PURPA projects had “overwhelmed” the utility and forced it to pay more for solar than it would in the market.

Per the settlement, Consumers will move forward with 584 megawatts of solar from developers — including Cypress Creek Renewables, which said it would develop about 40 percent of that capacity — who had collectively sunk over 3 gigawatts into the utility’s PURPA pipeline. Some projects, totaling 170 megawatts, will receive full, existing PURPA rates while the remainder, at 414 megawatts, will get a modified avoided cost rate. Developers that signed onto the settlement include 94 percent of the more than 3-gigawatt interconnection queue, according to Consumers.

The agreement isn’t a shocking one, said Colin Smith, senior solar analyst at Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables. Michigan’s controversy echoes similar struggles in North Carolina and Montana.

That doesn’t negate the outsize impact of the settlement in Michigan, though, with Consumers agreeing to nearly 600 megawatts in coming years. The utility also has standing plans to phase coal out of its portfolio, add 6 gigawatts of solar through 2030 and cut carbon emissions 90 percent by 2040.

More: Michigan PURPA settlement set to more than triple state’s solar capacity

Comments are closed.