Sunday, May 15, 2011

Greenage Roundup: Wyandotte Taps the Earth

Crummy weather keeping me in, so you get the links I've been saving up:

  • Geothermal energy doesn't seem to get a lot of attention when we talk about meeting home consumer energy needs, but maybe it's something we need to take a look at a little closer. The city of Wyandotte is doing just that, and while start-up costs may seem a little high (over 20g's or so), you save 60% on your energy bills - anywhere from $500-$1000 a year. Watch the video from FoxDetroit above for the details. It's a good idea.

  • Offshore wind policy legislation is on hold in Michigan, as Gov. Snyder seems less than interested and the Legislature is planning on taking the summer off. Irritated wind energy developers heard from Former Sen. Patty Birkholz that it's on his radar, but it appears that Ohio will be the first to build an offshore wind farm in the Great Lakes in Lake Erie outside of Cleveland. With the goal of building a supply chain "as well as entice a turbine maker to build a full assembly plant in Ohio", the state looks to capture manufacturing jobs surrounding wind energy. Hey, why didn't we think of that...

  • ... oh wait, we did. Or, some of us did, anyway. The story of one company who did in West Michigan, Altronics Energy, made the papers this week. Altron Automation moved to diversify from automotive production back in 2008 when they found that sub-components from China just didn't have the quality needed for home wind-turbine systems being built by WindTronics in Muskegon, so they got on board with a new product line and now employ 80 people between the two divisions of the parent company. Maybe they can sell some stuff to Ohio too.

  • Look out advanced battery-makers, here comes China. But before you freak, check "quality issues" in the story above. They aren't there yet on cars, either.

  • 322 new jobs are coming to Oakland County in manufacturing fasteners for wind energy, thanks to a training incentive in our 2008 energy legislation. Oakland Community College trained the employees for Dokka Fasteners, who was looking at Indiana, Illinois and Missouri for its new location before the state stepped up with this program to land these jobs. I haven't heard if the Michigan New Jobs program survived or not - maybe it did, since it was part of previous legislation, maybe it didn't, because we elected idiots. Hard to tell, and maybe it's better if I just don't know about it if it didn't. Blood pressure issues and all.

  • Canton-based Duo-Gard is moving into custom designed solar-powered charging stations for electric cars. The company, in business for 27 years building outdoor shelters and translucent daylighting systems, has come up with an innovative weather-proofing design using solar panels. With the ability for steel fabrication already in-house, they can build both standard and custom sizes for municipal and any other types of mass consumer need.

  • Enbridge will be replacing 75 miles of old pipe along line 6B from Indiana to Michigan, the same line that ruptured last year and spilled 800,000 gallons of oil into the K-zoo River. Work has already been completed on the "dented" line under the St. Clair River, which is good to know. Nice to see the company taking care of business here.

  • This story is a couple weeks old, but worth a mention. The Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids will begin a study to see if it's feasible to grow its own biofuel on land around the airport. Using pennycress, oriental mustard and canola, they look to power one or two maintenance vehicles at the facility with biodiesel, and check the results on cost. They currently spend $280,000 a year on fuel for vehicles. Because of security purposes, and the fact that plants draw local wildlife for lunch, the plot will be located outside the main perimeter of the airport.

    That's all for now, but hopefully not for good. Even though Snyder is being an ass about recruiting renewable energy companies to Michigan, I still have hope that we have some progressive thinkers at MEDC who will make the effort. As I just mentioned below, I believe that tax incentives will continue to some extent, even though they want to claim for the media that they have wiped them out. Fingers crossed we can land some more companies and keep diversifying our economy - because we seem to be resting on the one-industry growth in autos once again, and history has proven that to be such a bad idea...