Clean energy manufacturing drives Michigan job boom

Granholm: “The bottom line is that [energy] policy matters”

Michigan’s “green” economy is growing fast, data shows, with thousands of clean energy jobs on the horizon as a new manufacturing base is being built on the expertise of its battered auto industry.

The change raises the prospect that Michigan might one day be a global hub for electric vehicles and advanced battery development, along with biofuel technologies, wind power parts and solar panels.

That’s from a Reuters/SolveClimate article and interview with former Gov. Granholm.  Here’s more:

Former Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, whose second term ended in January, said in an interview that Michigan businesses are expected to create more than 150,000 clean energy jobs in the next decade from $14 billion of projects in the pipeline.

The jobs will stem from 17 advanced battery companies and nearly 50 solar, wind and biofuels companies that came to Michigan from August 2009 to December 2010, lured by state tax credits and federal stimulus grants, Granholm told SolveClimate News.

“Michigan has gone through the decade from hell,” Granholm said.

“The first eight years of the last decade were an example of job loss. But these last two years are an example of positive national and state policy working in tandem. What that can bring “¦ is more investment, more research and development, and, most importantly, jobs.”

As governor, Granholm implemented aggressive clean energy policies and tax incentives to attract businesses, foster collaboration with universities and reverse massive job loss in the automotive and manufacturing sectors….

Granholm has been a leader in pushing policies for clean energy jobs  (see Granholm: How to win the race for jobs).

Today, however, Michigan ranks No. 1 in the nation for job creation improvement in a recent Gallup survey of state job markets.

“The bottom line is that policy matters,” Granholm said. “Without policy, this would not be happening.”

Granholm began her clean energy approach with the $2 billion 21st Century Jobs Fund, a ten-year program started in 2005 to encourage venture capital investments and R&D funding for 1,500 startups or existing firms looking to transfer skills from the old economy to the cleantech industry.

Two years later, Granholm signed the state’s renewable portfolio standard requiring utilities to get 10 percent of their electricity supply from clean energy generation, renewable energy credits and energy efficiency programs by 2015.

Since then, a vast array of clean energy programs have popped up, including: tax-exempt zones for R&D and manufacturing facilities; business accelerators for cleantech startups; clean energy training grants; and business tax credits for alternative energy companies.

The whole article is worth reading to see how a coordinated set of policies can turn around even the most desperate economy.

7 Responses to Clean energy manufacturing drives Michigan job boom

  1. Kasra says:

    How are this guy and Fred Upton from the same state? How!?

  2. The bottom line is that population matters……..
    Sir John Sulston, Chair
    People and the Planet Working Group
    UK Royal Society
    March 31, 2011

    Dear Sir John Sulston:

    Your recent comments regarding the review of research on the human population and its impact on the planet we inhabit by a high level panel of experts give rise to hope for the future of children everywhere. Thanks for all you, the Planet and the People Working Group and the UK Royal Society are doing to protect biodiversity from massive extirpation, the environment from irreversible degradation and the Earth from wanton dissipation of its finite resources by the human species. I am especially appreciative for two quotes from you,

    …… “we’ve got to make sure that population is recognized…. as a multiplier of many others. We’ve got to make sure that population really does peak out when we hope it will.”

    …….”what we want to do is to see the issue of population in the open, dispassionately discussed…. and then we’ll see where it goes.”

    Inasmuch as you and an esteemed group of professionals with appropriate expertise are examining scientific evidence regarding the unbridled increase of absolute global human population numbers, please note there is research that has been summarily dismissed by many too many of our colleagues regarding human population dynamics and human overpopulation which I would like to bring to your attention. For the past ten years I have been unsuccessfully attempting to draw attention to certain evidence that to date remains both unchallenged and ignored by virtually every top-rank professional. They appear unable to refute the evidence and simultaneously unwilling to believe it. Their unexpected conspiracy of silence has served to conceal certain research by David Pimentel and Russell Hopfenberg. How else can it be that so many established professionals with adequate expertise act as if they are willfully blind, hysterically deaf and electively mute in the face of scientific evidence of human population dynamics and human overpopulation? The conscious denial of what could somehow be real about the growth of the human population in our time is not doing anything that can be construed as somehow right and good for future human wellbeing and environmental health, I suppose. It appears as if we could be witnesses to the most colossal failure of intellectual honesty, moral courage and nerve in human history.

    Peer-reviewed professional publications, letters to the editor, slideshow presentations et cetera can be found at the following link,

    Thank you for attending to this request for careful, skillful and rigorous scrutiny of research from two outstanding scientists. Please know I am holding onto a ray of hope that the research of Hopfenberg and Pimentel is fundamentally flawed; that human population dynamics is different from, not essentially similar to, the population dynamics of other species; and that human population numbers are not primarily a function of an available supply of food necessary for human existence. That would be the best news.

    Sometime soon, I trust, many scientists will speak up with regard to apparently unforeseen and unfortunately unwelcome science of human population dynamics and human overpopulation the way people in huge numbers in the Mid-East are calling out for democracy now.

    Respectfully yours,

    Steve Salmony

    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
    Established 2001

  3. @1 Kasra, we might begin by noting that although from the same state as Upton, Granholm unlike Upton is not a “guy”. There are of course also a host of other differences between them. :0)

    Jennifer Granholm’s potential successor as well as the rest of her party’s candidates were overwhelmed by the Tsunami of conservatism that swept through Michigan’s political climate last Fall blaming Her policies for the economic collapse of Michigan.

    The future may well reveal that Granholm had put in place the seeds of Policies & programs that will result in the Michigan recovery but it is still a very dark climate in this State both financially & politically.

  4. Roger Blanchard says:

    Here is one project proposed for Michigan, not far from where I live:

    A Frontier Renewable Resources Project Factsheet

    Frontier Renewable Resources is a producer of cellulosic ethanol and is owned by Mascoma Corporation and J.M. Longyear. Frontier is gearing up to build their first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant in Kinross Township in the eastern U.P. of Michigan using 1.13 million green tons of hardwood logs per year.

    Output Energy versus Input Energy
    The 6 plant boilers (90-millionBTU/hour boilers running 24 hours/day) are projected to generate 4.7 billion megajoules per year of energy that will be used to make ethanol. The plant is projected to produce 40 million gallons of ethanol/year, which has an energy content of 3.3 billion megajoules of energy. The boiler energy consumed in making ethanol is 1.43 times more than the energy content of the ethanol that they plan to produce. If the diesel fuel that Frontier projects to use for timber harvesting, wood processing and transportation of wood is included, the energy ratio increases to about 1.6. Couldn’t the boiler fuel be used more efficiently for other purposes compared to making ethanol? Does it make sense for the state and federal governments to subsidize this project if it consumes more energy than it produces when the objective of the project is to produce energy?

    State/Federal Subsidies and Tax Waivers
    Frontier Renewable Resources has received a $20 million grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the U.S. Department of Energy is proposing to provide another $58.5 million. Mascoma and other private investors have limited their investment in this project. Is that due to its lack of viability?

    Along with government grants, low interest loans, and various subsidies, the project will receive $41 million in local property tax relief and another $19 million in state tax waivers over a 15 year period.

    Frontier is also seeking government help with road, water, and wastewater infrastructure as well as rail and utility construction.

    Are all of these expenditures a justifiable use of taxpayer’s money?

    Beyond the grants, tax waivers and other government assistance, ethanol gets government subsidies of approximately $1.50 a gallon.

    Projected Employment
    The proposed facility is projected to employ about 70 people permanently. Does it make sense for the state and federal governments to provide so much money for so few jobs?

    The Available Resource
    While there have been studies which indicate that sufficient wood exists within the 150 mile radius of Kinross, there have been no specific studies which indicate that there is enough wood to supply this specific project and the existing wood processing industries.
    State and federal lands are at or close to their timber cutting limit so Frontier will rely on private landowners. If landowners in the U.S., within the 150 mile limit, aren’t interested in having their timber cut, Frontier will have to get the required pulpwood from Canada. Then Canadian workers, not American, will get paid for cutting and transporting feedstock to Frontier.
    Because Frontier will increase the demand for hardwood pulp, prices will rise. When other users of that commodity within the 150 mile radius see costs rise, jobs at those mills will be placed in jeopardy.
    If 70 or more permanent jobs are lost at other wood processors with the introduction of this project, have we gained anything?

    What Should be Done?
    Considering the questionable aspects of this project presented above, we ask that you pull government funding and tax breaks for this project.

    Roger Blanchard
    Sault Ste. Marie, MI

  5. Lore says:

    The state of Michigan is now ruled by the self proclaimed, “one tuff nerd”, Gov. Rick Snyder. The guy who sold out his former company, Gateway, and its employees to China. With the rest of his fellow Midwestern republican governors he is on a rampage to dismantle many of the programs set forth by his predecessor and using debt reduction as the excuse. However, most of the changes and new rules are just ending up to be thinly disguised overreaching power grabs in order to secure his parties long lasting power base. They do nothing to support new jobs and technologies.

    Rather, Snyder is taxing private and public pensions and cutting senior citizen programs to fund tax cuts to large old corporations in the state. Once again proving the definition of insanity by replaying Reagan “tinkle-down economics”, or as the old saying puts it, “don’t go pissing down my back and tell me it’s raining”.

  6. Susan Anderson says:

    Cheers to Jennifer Granholm. Perhaps if there are enough of these clearly successful efforts (also GE mentioned below; I had no idea they were good citizens, though not paying taxes is typical, still light grey is way better than black), people will begin to notice.

    And it is rather surprising how willing people are to not notice what they are reading – Jennifer is a woman … huh?

  7. Kasra says:

    woops, sorry jennifer!