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Governor Granholm Pitches Michigan at Global Wind Energy Conference

May 5, 2009

Granholm's trip elevates state's profile with world leaders in growing industry

LANSING - Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today addressed the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) conference in Chicago, the world's largest annual wind-energy industry event, touting Michigan's successes and potential in the fast-growing industry to thousands of wind-energy leaders, turbine and supply manufacturers, and service providers.

"Michigan's most urgent need right now is jobs, and our greatest opportunity to bring jobs and investment to Michigan is to capitalize on our momentum in the alternative energy industry," Granholm said.  "My economic team and I are pitching Michigan to the top wind-energy leaders in the world, letting them know that Michigan's economic incentives, world-class workforce, and manufacturing expertise make us the best spot in the nation to locate their companies.  Growing Michigan's renewable-energy industry is an essential part of creating jobs quickly and diversifying our economy."

The governor joined a panel of Midwestern governors this morning.  Her schedule included private meetings with ten of the world's most prominent wind-energy companies.  Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) President and CEO Greg Main and members of the MEDC team joined her at the conference to court new employers and help raise Michigan's national profile in the wind-energy industry.

Michigan is recognized in AWEA's 2009 ranking as the nation's second fastest-growing state for new wind capacity.  In addition, the U.S. Department of Energy rates Michigan as the fourth-best place in America for the production of wind energy and the manufacture of wind turbines.

"With an industrial base that has the capacity to support as many as 24,000 wind-energy jobs, we are actively assisting auto suppliers to diversify into wind-component manufacturing," Main said.  "We offer innovative incentives for wind-energy investment and job-training grants and have ten Renaissance Zones available to support wind energy businesses.  Other measures to broaden our wind-industry base include fostering entrepreneurship by supporting commercialization of university research and making venture capital more readily available."

In recent weeks, two major wind-energy projects were announced in Michigan.  Global Wind Systems has started construction on a $32-million wind turbine assembly plant in Novi, and Great Lakes Towers will build a $19-million factory in Monroe County to produce giant towers for commercial-scale wind turbines.

More than two dozen companies have started or diversified into wind parts manufacturing.  Others are specializing in systems to deliver affordable wind power.  In Manistee, Mariah Power of Nevada and Michigan-based MasTech are jointly producing wind-power systems for residential and business use.  Cascade Engineering in Grand Rapids is partnering with a company in Edinburgh, Scotland, to make rooftop turbines. 

The governor's efforts to grow the wind industry in Michigan are part of her broad strategy to use Michigan's plentiful natural resources, skilled and versatile workforce, and top-notch universities to make the state North America's leader in all types of renewable energy and the world's advanced-battery capital. 

Granholm has taken other aggressive steps to maximize Michigan's ability to generate clean electricity from wind and to create manufacturing, engineering, construction and other types of jobs from the wind industry.  Among other efforts, she:

  • appointed a Great lakes Wind Council to examine offshore wind energy and develop guidelines for its use in Michigan;

  • signed sweeping bipartisan legislation last year, including a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) mandating that 10 percent of the state's energy come from renewable sources by 2015;

  • established a goal that by 2020, Michigan will reduce fossil fuel dependency for generating electricity by 45 percent, to be accomplished through increased renewable energy, gains in energy efficiency, and other new technologies.

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