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Job Boom in Michigan, as Clean Energy Manufacturing Drives Economic Recovery

In an exclusive interview, former Gov. Granholm says Michigan has emerged from a 'decade of hell,' with jobs growth spurred by clean energy policies

By Maria Gallucci, SolveClimate News

Apr 6, 2011

Two years later, Granholm signed the state's requiring utilities to get 10 percent of their electricity supply from clean energy generation, renewable energy credits and energy efficiency programs by 2015.

Since then, of clean energy programs have popped up, including: tax-exempt zones for R&D and manufacturing facilities; business accelerators for cleantech startups; clean energy training grants; and business tax credits for alternative energy companies.

Michigan Having a 'Cluster Effect'

Howard Learner, director of the Chicago-based (ELPC), said that Michigan is beginning to have a "cluster effect" among renewable energy and electric vehicle developers.

"Michigan is becoming a center for clean energy R&D, and that tends to feed itself. More development attracts more equipment manufacturers and so on," he told SolveClimate News.

A central part of Michigan's cleantech focus has been building on what the state already knows best — automobiles.

In 2009 and 2010, twelve projects in the state received a share of from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to boost advanced battery and electric vehicle manufacturing and research and development.

General Motors received a portion of those grants to build its battery pack manufacturing test facility — the largest in the world — at its headquarters in Warren.

The DOE is also funding half of a $25 million Clean Vehicles Consortium run through the U.S.-China to develop technologies on vehicle electrification.

The Michigan at the University of Michigan is leading the five-year-long consortium, which includes Ohio State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Oak Ridge National Laboratories, General Motors, Ford, Toyota and Chrysler, among others.

The Ann Arbor-based university spent on overall R&D spending last year, the most of any public university or college in the nation, according to the U.S. .

Dennis Assanis, who directs the Phoenix institute, said that in a few years, people will be asking, "Which came first, the University of Michigan or the electric vehicle?"

Leader in Clean Energy Patents

The same could be true for the state. Michigan leads the country in U.S. clean energy patents per state, holding 433 patents — or 23 percent of the national total — primarily in fuel cells and hybrid or plug-in electric vehicle manufacturing, the reported last month.

Assanis added that the state's century-old manufacturing tradition is undergoing a transformation as auto parts and machinery make way for wind turbines and solar panels.

"We are a leader in manufacturing in the U.S. and world, and now there is a great opportunity ahead of us to address the design, R&D and manufacturing of these new systems that are going to be needed for clean energy," he said.

The state houses nearly 200 solar and wind supply chain companies that employ more than 6,300 people and 4,000 people, respectively, according to released on March 22.

You go, Michigan!

Whoo-hoo! Congratulations to Michigan, and to Governor Granholm (D-MI) for having the wisdom and foresight to invest during terrible economic times and attract clean energy businesses to the Wolverine State! *cheers*

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