100% Renewable Energy Pathways


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​Ann Arbor has set the goal of powering the entire community with 100% renewable energy by the year 2030. There are multiple pathways the city could take to achieve this goal so in 2022, Ann Arbor City Council commissioned a study to analyze which pathways the city should consider. Specifically, City Council requested that a consulting team be hired to:

  • Create an energy options analysis that provides details about the various pathways the city could take to achieve its clean energy goals;
  • Conduct a traditional electric utility municipalization feasibility study; and
  • Conduct a two-phase rate analysis for a Sustainable Energy Utility.

Consultant's Findings

The study was completed in fall of 2023. The Consultant's reports are below: 

​Public Sentiment

In addition to the technical report, the city commissioned a public survey to understand what the community desires in an energy system. The survey polled 412 residents and was a statistically valid and representative survey of Ann Arbor residents. The survey had a 95% accuracy rate with a confidence interval of +/- 4.8%.

The survey found that the three most important characteristics the public desires in their energy system are: 1) resilience; 2) reliability; and 3) low-cost renewable energy. The emphasis on resilience, reliability, and cost were found to be the most important characteristics regardless of how questions were asked – open ended, rank choice, or force choice. You can read the survey summary and full summary report, inclusive and verbatim responses​. 

Next Steps

Staff are still processing the reports findings and supporting data. It is anticipated that city staff will continue efforts to significantly scale and create new programs to support the installation of behind the meter solar and energy storage systems on as many buildings as possible in Ann Arbor. Staff will need substantial time to review the consultant's materials and dive into the underlying data. It is anticipated that staff will review materials and provide any additional recommended actions to Council in early 2024.

Answers to frequently asked questions 
1. Why did the city commission this report?

When City Council adopted the A2ZERO Plan in June of 2020, they set the goal of powering the entire community with 100% renewable energy by 2030. In an effort to achieve this goal, the City Council commissioned a study, known as the Energy Options Analysis, to study the different energy procurement pathways open to the city, as well as the different utility structures, that could be leveraged to achieve the 100% renewable energy goal (See City Council Resolution).

2. Who produced the report?

The report was produced by a team led by 5Lakes Energy, LLC, with support from SunStore Energy, NewGen Strategies and Solutions, Potomac Law Group, and Exponential Engineering. This team was selected after a competitive request for proposals process due to their knowledge of the energy landscape in Michigan, their previous experience conducting municipalization studies, and their technical computation skills (Renewable Energy Study Request for Proposals).

3. Does the report represent City staff's recommendations? 

No. The report and supporting material above are from the consulting team. City staff have not yet made any formal recommendations to City Council. 

4. What were the outcomes of the report?

The report outlined multiple different pathways the city could deploy to achieve the 100% renewable energy goal. A strong preference for behind the meter solar and storage deployment, paired with large, utility-scale renewable energy initiative was identified as the most likely option to align with the city's A2ZERO goals and pre-established energy criteria and principles.

The report was agnostic on utility structures but did identify three pathways that could be leveraged to help the city meet its clean energy goals in the long-term. These scenarios were known as DTE+, Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU), and Traditional Municipalization / Municipal Electric Utility (MEU). The consultants did find, however, that traditional municipalization (buying all DTE's infrastructure) would not be possible by 2030.

5. What was not included in the report?

This report did not assess the costs and needed investments to improve the reliability of the electrical system. The report also provides only preliminary price estimates for different energy procurement choices and utility structures. In most cases, a more detailed second study would be needed to more fully understand the likely costs of options the city is strongly considering. The report also did not assess every possible scenario the city could deploy to achieve its 100% renewable energy goal by 2030. Instead, the consultants focused on scenarios likely to be successful.

6.  Why wasn't reliability assessed as part of this report?

Reliability is a very important part of our energy system. But assessing ways to improve reliability can only happen once you understand the existing characteristics of your energy system. Put another way, the needs and costs associated with improving reliability would be a part of a second study (also known as a Phase 2 study) because assessing pathways to improve reliability necessitates understanding how the current system operates and where opportunities for improvement exist. This first study helped us understand our current system.

7. What are the energy criteria and principles?

The Energy Criteria and principles are eight characteristics that the city is required to assess when making any energy-related recommendations. They include three core criteria which are requirements for all investments: reducing greenhouse gas emissions, additionality, and enhancing equity and justice; and five principles, which should be maximized, to the fullest extent possible, in energy-related decision-making: enhancing resilience, starting local, moving quickly, scalable, and transferable solutions, and cost-effective solutions. Energy and Criteria Principles

8.  How can the public stay informed about this study and next steps? 

The city always strives for transparency and is dedicated to sharing information about this project. Updates will be made available on this webpage. The city will also work to develop short videos to explain the report findings and infographics to break down the large amount of information included in the study. All of this information will be promoted via city communication channels. In addition, report findings will be shared via future public listening and learning sessions and will be presented at a special City Council Work Session on September 26 and to the city's Energy Commission on October 10.  These sessions are available to watch via CTN's YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/ctnannarbor. Sign up for email notifications from the Sustainability and Innovations team at https://www.a2gov.org/departments/sustainability/Newsletter-Events/Pages/default.aspx.

9. What are the next steps?

The city will focus on informing the public about options identified in the report during the next few months. It is anticipated that staff will present recommendations to City Council, informed by the report and public engagement, in early 2024. ​