Michigan, along with many of its Great Lakes neighbors, is at a turning point in terms of how it generates and uses energy, as Curt Guyette skillfully brings to light in the latest edition of Detroit's Metro Times.
Either get on with an aggressive pursuit of the fuels of the future - the widely diverse energy sources of the Blue Belt - or remain chained to the power supplies of the past - and risk reinforcing the Rust Belt brand.
Michigan talks a big game about pushing the boundaries of energy innovation, generating clean, green 21st century knowledge jobs, and building a much more modern, sustainable, and fiscally responsible economy powered by wind turbines, solar panels, and other alternatives to polluting fossil fuels.
But, behind the scenes, it's basically business as usual. Consumer's Energy wants to build a new smoke-belching coal-fired power plant in Bay City, MI. DTE plans a new nuclear plant in Monroe City, MI. And the Wolverine Power Cooperative, a consortium of five energy providers, is doing its part to keep the obsolete 20th century energy agenda alive by putting the pieces in place to build its own coal plant in Rogers City, MI.
The Coop has purchased more than 400 acres to construct the plant on the shores of Lake Huron.
In a move widely regarded as the first step towards securing the necessary state permits, Coop leaders presented their so-called Clean Energy Venture to the Michigan House Energy and Technology Committee last February.
They've secured a firm to design and engineer the monument to Industrial Era ideas.
And now they're working to the seal deal on some nearby airport land and erect an air quality monitoring station.
MI Governor Jennifer, who pins the state's furture prosperity in part on its ability to lead the nation in energy innovation, has said little publicly about the Rogers City proposal. But moles in Lansing, the state capitol, say "she enthusiastically supports it" because it means jobs. So does assembling wind turbines, and adapting inefficient buildings with modern energy-smart technology.
Taking the pro-coal stance threatens not only to confirm Gov. Granholms lofty energy ideas as empty rhetoric, but also slow Michigan's much need turn toward modernity and 21st century prosperity.