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Business roundtable advances Michigan's clean energy future

The objective of the MI Healthy Climate Plan (MHCP) is a prosperous, clean energy economic future for all Michiganders. But how best to get there? The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) and its Office of Climate and Energy (OCE) explored that question recently with more than 20 clean energy business leaders.

Rendering of LG Energy Solution building in Holland, Michigan. (Rendering courtesy of LG Energy Solution.)

Rendering of LG Energy Solution building in Holland, Mich. (Courtesy of LG Energy Solution)

 

Meeting in the Detroit office of Walker-Miller Energy Services, participants in the Sept. 28 Clean Energy Business Roundtable talked with representatives of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, EGLE, and OCE about the needs they see, such as skilled workforce development, leveraging of federal funding, stewarding small businesses, and advancing equity.

Carla Walker-Miller, CEO of the company that bears her name, noted that the word “equity” appears more than a dozen times in the MHCP.

“We are in the midst of a transformative opportunity to create a vibrant clean energy economy that is intentional about including all Michiganders, while urgently addressing climate change,” Walker-Miller said. “We have the resources, the technology, and the will to do the most important work of this generation. Kudos to Gov. Whitmer and the EGLE team.”

EGLE and OCE organized the roundtable to discuss the future of green jobs and clean energy solutions in Michigan as part of the MHCP’s roadmap to a carbon-neutral Michigan by 2050. EGLE Director Liesl Clark noted that the Aug. 16 signing of the federal Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) includes $369 billion for climate and clean energy provisions nationwide – Congress’ largest climate investment yet. 

“We want to capture that momentum,” Clark said.

Anyone can join the conversation around climate action in Michigan. Quarterly virtual meetings of the Council on Climate Solutions  are open to the public, and the council accepts comments in writing to EGLE-ClimateSolutions@Michigan.gov.

Michigan’s clean energy transition is already well underway. With more than 113,000 jobs in every region of the state – the majority in manufacturing (57%) and construction (21.7%) – the state’s clean energy workforce leads the Midwest and is fifth overall in the nation. In August, the latest U.S. Energy and Employment Jobs Report ranked Michigan No. 1 in the nation for energy-sector job growth from 2020-21. And clean energy has rebounded faster than the state’s overall economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recent large clean energy business investments in Michigan include:

Recent state actions include:

  • On Sept. 7 and 8, Gov. Whitmer signed executive directives to create jobs in Michigan by ensuring that state departments and agencies use tax credits and other resources in the IRA to build on Michigan’s manufacturing strengths, advance its energy and mobility leadership, and empower workers to succeed; and to lower the cost of doing business and make Michigan more competitive by reducing energy and supply chain costs and continuing to improve permitting processes.
  • Gov. Whitmer’s four bipartisan annual state budgets have invested tens of millions of dollars in clean energy improvements and upgrades for state facilities, families, local governments, houses of worship, and small businesses and have consistently invested in Michigan Saves, the nation’s first nonprofit green bank supporting small businesses and working families with financing energy improvements.
  • The governor also has announced that 100% renewable energy will power all State of Michigan facilities by 2025. 
  • Michigan has partnered with governors of Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin to advance the Lake Michigan EV Circuit Tour, a network of electric vehicle chargers spanning more than 1,100 miles of drivable shoreline around Lake Michigan. 
  • In June, EGLE announced a $3.5 million grant to help facilitate the MiNextCities effort by NextEnergy, a Detroit-based leader in smart city technologies. Dearborn, Flint, and Marquette were chosen for the first phase of the three-year MiNextCities pilot project to address climate change, promote resiliency, improve infrastructure, and accelerate the use of clean energy, smart city technology, and efficient mobility solutions.
  • The MHCP sets an expectation that 40% or more of state and federal funding for climate-related initiatives will benefit disadvantaged communities as part of its focus on environmental justice. In August, Gov. Whitmer joined the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to announce Michigan Strategic Fund approval of more than $2.8 million in Training Center Equipment Grants to 74 training providers around the state for employer-driven workforce training, skills development, equipment training, and more.

More than 100,000 Michiganders are enrolled in the Michigan Reconnect Program, launched in 2021 to provide free or reduced-cost community college tuition for students 25 and older who have not yet earned a degree. An additional $55 million allocation was recently approved with bipartisan support in the Legislature for fiscal year 2023. More information is available on the MEDC’s Michigan Workforce and Talent website.