A Heap of Hope for Energizing Michigan's Future

Cranking out renewable energy technologies to Michigan could be like spinach to Popeye, according to a trifecta of announcements this week from across the state.

What's becoming increasingly clear in the wake of those bulletins is that the longer Michigan's politicians take to enact a statewide policy to pursue energy innovation - as at least two dozens U.S. states have already done - the longer they choose to obstruct the state's ability to grow jobs, turnaround an embarrassing economy, and position for prosperity in the 21st century.

The week's first energy announcement comes from Detroit, where innovative solar technology is flying of the shelves at Energy Conversion Devices, which just inked an agreement with one of the nation's leading solar panel installers. Analysts called it a modest deal. But Forbes reported on the transaction. A rare and welcome sign of positive growth for a state seemingly synonomous with factory closings, real estate foreclosures, and bankruptcies in the national media.

ECD's stock, by the way, ended trading today up nearly 11 percent.

The story picks up more momentum 70 miles to the west in East Lansing where Michigan State University, one of the state's leading research institutions, released a report touting the economic benefits that could accrue to the Great Lakes State given an agressive strategy to promote the wind business.

The report reveals that a plan to strategically deploy new wind energy generating infrastructure in the state would, among other things, stimulate approximately $20 billion in new construction investment and establish more than 25,000 jobs - some temporary, some permanent - over the next two decades.

On to Grand Rapids, finally, where one of the region's leading economic development agencies is gearing up to release a report next week that says a basic strategy to grow the alternative energy industry could generate 4,300 new jobs and leverage approximately $1.2 billion in new investment in five short years.

“Supporting the development of Michigan’s alternative energy sector is a critical strategy for securing the economic health of the state,” said Jim Croce, CEO of the Detroit-based NextEnergy.