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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

Nearly all of the state's solar industry jobs are with or . Combined, the firms have invested $3 billion in Michigan over the past five years and created thousands of new construction jobs and permanent positions.

Hemlock is the world's largest manufacturer of the polycrystalline silicon used to make solar cells and modules for panels. Dow Corning, a majority owner of Hemlock, employs some 4,500 people to develop silicon atom technology and silicone solar panel materials, as well as raw materials for thin-film solar cells.

Hemlock alone received more than half of the $242 million in advanced energy tax credits awarded to a dozen solar, wind and battery companies in Michigan through federal stimulus dollars.

"Our goal is to help alternative energy become an economically viable, sustainable energy option globally," said Jarrod Erpelding, a Dow Corning spokesperson, during a conference call last month on the ELPC report.

"Michigan is well positioned to play a major role in alternative energy with the assets and expertise already residing here."

Offshore Wind Farms Next?

In wind energy, the Phoenix energy institute is hoping to drive future investments in offshore wind farms in the surrounding Great Lakes.

Together with the Grand Valley State University's Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center (MAREC), the institute will begin a $1.4 million project monitoring a this fall to determine sites with the strongest wind energy resource. (Includes correction, 4/06/2011)

"We want to develop not just ideas but products and commercialization. We see energy as closely coupled with innovation and jobs creation," Assanis said.

He added: "For the state, it is going to be crucial to create new jobs not only for blue collar [workers], but also for the talent that is graduating from the University of Michigan and other schools in the state, which is going to go into advanced R&D efforts associated with this new industry."

Corrections: An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute and the Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center are currently monitoring a $2 billion buoyed research platform to determine which sites are suitable for offshore wind farms. The actual cost of the entire project, including the research platform, is $1.4 million, and the monitoring will begin in the fall of 2011.

Further, the article misstated the number of clean energy jobs Michigan businesses are expected to create in the next decade. In that period 89,000 new jobs are expected to be created, not 150,000 jobs.

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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