Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Some Good News on Alternative Energy Jobs in Michigan

Just wanted to note a couple of things. Renewafuel, part of the Cleveland-Cliffs operation, is building a $10 million dollar biofuel facility up near Marquette. 25 jobs created at the facility, plus an untold number of indirect jobs for area loggers and farmers to supply the plant.

Renewafuel makes environmentally friendly biomass fuel cubes using wood by-products, grains, grasses, seed hulls, paper waste and so on, as a replacement for burning coal. Check the environmental benefits -

"If we use a ton of our fuel to displace a ton of coal, it will result in a 100 percent reduction in greenhouse gases emitted because of the nature of the products we are using,” said Renewafuel President Jim Mennell. “It will be a 90 percent reduction in sulfur dioxide and over a 50 percent reduction in mercury emissions."

The new plant will produce 150,000 tons of these cubes every year; 90,000 to be used by Cleveland-Cliffs operations, and the Marquette Board of Light & Power is testing the cubes to see if they can be used to replace coal at their Shiras plant. So far, indications are that they will be successful. Cool stuff.

On another note, United Solar Ovonic, my favorite company to watch, announced they are now hiring in Greenville, and are now moving towards profitability.

United Solar Ovonic L.L.C., makers of solar laminate products, began hiring employees for its expanding Greenville plant, the company said Monday. It expects to hire 400 employees.


A subsidiary of Energy Conversion Devices Inc., United Solar, accounts for 90 percent of ECD’s projected 2008 revenue of $220 million to $245 million.

ECD, based in Rochester Hills, which has shown quarterly losses since its founding in 1960, showed signs of a profitable summer by reporting a net income of $7 million for the third quarter that ended March 31.

And finally one last bit of news - The Senate moved to break the tie-bar on the RPS bills from the energy package yesterday, but they did not report it out of committee. What that all means to the future of the legislation, I don't know at this point - all I know is that they are costing us jobs and investment every day that this package sits without action. This is THE growing industry in America, and legislative bickering is leaving Michigan behind. We would be seeing all kinds of stories like the ones above if we had a renewable portfolio standard. As it stands, we will just have to take what we can get until these guys wake up and do the right thing.