The number of Michiganders who produced their own electricity in 2016 grew by nearly 430 over the previous year, according to the Michigan Public Service Commission’s (MPSC) annual Net Metering and Solar Program Report.
The newly released report, which tracks on-site renewable energy electric generation in the state, says 2,582 residential, commercial and industrial customers participated in Michigan’s net metering program in 2016, up 427 from the previous year. Solar remains the leading form of energy generation under the program, a position it has held since 2010. Wind is the second most popular.
The report says the total capacity of net metering installations in 2016 was approximately 21,888 kW, an increase of 4,823 kW – or 28% – from 2015. The program represents 0.024% of Michigan’s total retail electricity sales.
Michigan’s net metering program, established in 2008 under Public Act 295, is available to customers of rate-regulated utilities, cooperatives, and alternative electric suppliers. As the MPSC explains, net metering offsets part or all of a customer’s energy needs and reduces their electric bills. When customers produce more electricity than they need, power is provided back to the serving utility, permitting the customer to receive a credit.
About 2,500 of the net metering customers, or roughly 75%, have projects that are up to 20 kW. DTE Electric Co. has the most, at 1,418, followed by Consumers Energy Co. at 544 and Upper Peninsula Power Co. (UPPCO) at 132. Seventy-two customers have projects of 21-150 kW; Consumers has 40 and DTE 27 of the total. According to the report, all participating utilities except UPPCO have substantial room in their programs to add new customers.
Luce County in the Upper Peninsula is the only Michigan county without a net metering customer. Wayne, Oakland and Washtenaw counties have the most customers, between 100 and 500 each. Luce and Gogebic have no solar installations while 12 counties – Crawford, Gladwin, Hillsdale, Ionia, Kalamazoo, Keweenaw, Lake, Luce, Montcalm, Ogemaw, Oscoda, and Wexford – have no wind installations.
Michigan’s new energy laws call on the MPSC to establish a distributed generation program and tariff to replace the current net metering program. Current and new net metering customers who enter the distributed generation program before the tariff is established and approved in utility rate cases may continue to net meter for 10 years from the time they enroll, according to the MPSC. The new tariff will be considered as part of rate cases filed after June 1, 2018, and go into effect when the commission decides those cases.
The report estimates the amount of solar installed in Michigan by the end of 2017 will be 120,530 kW, indicating significant solar project construction this year. That’s up from 57,999 kW in 2016 and 36,118 kW in 2015.
The full Net Metering and Solar Program Report is available here.