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EGLE hosts Clean Energy Business Roundtable

Participants share ideas to advance Michigan’s clean energy and advanced mobility economy

Developing a skilled clean energy workforce in Michigan, leveraging federal funding, stewarding small businesses, and advancing equity were top of mind when more than 20 clean energy business leaders met with state officials representing Governor Gretchen Whitmer; the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE); and EGLE’s Office of Climate and Energy (OCE).

EGLE and OCE organized the Sept. 28 Clean Energy Business Roundtable at Walker-Miller Energy Services in Detroit to discuss the future of clean energy jobs, innovation, and economic development in Michigan and efforts to build a more sustainable, equitable, and prosperous future. The event is a part of the state’s efforts to engage the public and business owners to help implement the goals of the MI Healthy Climate Plan (MHCP), which Gov. Whitmer unveiled in April, and keep Michigan at the forefront of energy and mobility jobs.

EGLE Director Liesl Clark welcomed participants by noting that the recent passage of the federal Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) opens new opportunities with $369 billion for climate and clean energy provisions nationwide – Congress’ largest climate investment yet. 

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

“Michigan needs to move quickly to meet the bold climate action goals in the MHCP, and clean energy businesses are critical to getting us there,” said Cory Connolly, OCE climate and energy advisor.

Several roundtable participants stressed that continued clean energy growth requires cultivating skilled workers and connecting with Michigan’s diverse communities, supporting career-track employment through mentoring, internships, apprenticeships, support services, and job training.

“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,” said Carla Walker-Miller, CEO of Walker-Miller Energy Services. “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.”

Michigan works to accelerate clean energy and environmental justice

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. She has joined 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. 

Also this year, 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.

Recent large clean energy business investments in Michigan include:

With more than 113,000 jobs in every region of the state – the majority in manufacturing (57%) and construction (21.7%) – Michigan’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.

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. The funds will provide 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.

Join the clean energy and climate conversation

Council on Climate Solutions virtual meetings are open to the public, and anyone can send comments in writing to EGLE-ClimateSolutions@Michigan.gov.