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Alternative Energy Investments Projected at Wind Council Meeting Here

About 150 Attend Session at SVSU; Two More Meetings Set Elsewhere

April 7, 2010       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Stanley "Skip" Pruss describes alternative energy investments in Michigan.

Besides emerging wind energy development in the Saginaw Bay region, solar energy is poised to bring investment of $3.7 billion to Michigan, much of it here, Stanley "Skip" Pruss told a recent gathering here.

Mr. Pruss, director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth, also projected investments of $9.1 billion in advanced battery storage manufacturing in the state, including the Dow Kokam plant planned for Midland.

Firms involved in solar developments include Dow Chemical, GlobalWatt, Suniva, Evergreen Solar, Hemlock Semiconductor, all in this region, and Clairvoyant Energy Solar Panel Manufacturing, Inc., Wixom; and United Solar Ovionics, Rochester Hills.

In addition, 10 companies including Merrill Technologies Group, of Saginaw, are investing in wind energy technology manufacturing in Michigan, he said.

Adverse reaction to proposals for windmills in the Great Lakes did not happen at the recent meeting of the Great Lakes Wind Council at Saginaw Valley State University.

Council member Thomas L. Hickner, the Bay County Executive, said the meeting was calm and information was delivered without apparent controversy.

Mr. Pruss, council chair as well as MDLEG director, made a presentation entitled "Why Offshore Wind" that was well-received by the crowd of about 150, said Mr. Hickner.

Audience members used an automated response system to record their opinions on the presentation. Mr. Pruss stressed that wind energy will create jobs, secure new investment and diversify Michigan's economy. He called in "an environmentally benign power" and said it will balance Michigan's energy portfolio.

The speaker outlined a huge global opportunity for Michigan firms and said by 2030 one in every four jobs will involve clean energy technology. He projected a total of 37 million jobs nationally by that date.

The International Energy Agency forecasts a $20 trillion market for clean energy by 2030 and a $45 million market by 2050. The U.S. is seen reaping a $4.5 trillion economic benefit by 2030.

In 2009 about 9,800 megawatts of increased wind capacity was added, amounting to a 39 percent hike nationally, he said.

Mr. Pruss said Michigan brings many strengths to the wind energy process: advanced manufacturing and robotics expertise, superior supply chain capacity, available skilled labor force, outstanding universities, excellent community college system, deep water ports and outstanding wind power assets.

Energy security also is a positive issue with wind energy, he said. The U.S. uses 19.5 million barrels of oil per day, amounting to 25 percent of global consumption. Of that, 13 million barrels per day are imported at a cost of $380 billion per year at $80 per barrel.

Michigan's share of oil costs is more than $24 billion per year, or more than 6 percent of the total used nationally. Costs are seen rising because of increased demand from China and India, higher costs of extraction and transportation, diminishing supply and carbon regulation.

A global climate consensus is evolving, according to Mr. Pruss. He said 194 countries are likely to reach agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. That will reduce greenhouse gases by about 80 percent in industrialized countries by 2050 and by 50 percent in non-industrialized countries, he said.

Other public meetings of the Great Lakes Wind Council are scheduled as follows:

APRIL 14: Danforth Place. 4989 Danforth Road, Escanaba, (Upper Peninsula).

MAY 4: Muskegon Community College, Collegiate Hall, 221 S Quarterline Rd, Muskegon.

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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
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