The goal of the MI Healthy Climate Program (MHCP) is to create a thriving 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) recently discussed this issue with more than 20 clean energy business leaders.
Rendering of the LG Energy Solutions building in Holland, Michigan. (Courtesy of LG Energy Solutions)
Meeting at Walker-Miller Energy Services’ Detroit office for the September meeting. 28 Clean Energy Business Roundtable with Governor’s Representative. Gretchen Whitmer, EGLE and OCE describe the needs they see, such as skilled workforce development, leveraging federal funding, managing small businesses and promoting equity.
Carla Walker-Miller, CEO of the company that bears her name, noted that the word “equity” appears a dozen times in the MHCP.
“We are in the midst of a transformational opportunity to create a vibrant clean energy economy that intentionally includes all Michiganders, while urgently addressing climate change,” Walker-Miller said. “We have the resources, the technology and the will to do this generation. Most important job. Tributes to the Governor. Whitmer and the EGLE team.”
EGLE and OCE organized a roundtable to discuss the future of green jobs and clean energy solutions in Michigan as part of the MHCP’s roadmap to achieve carbon neutrality in Michigan by 2050. EGLE Director Liesl Clark noted that the federal Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022, signed into law Aug. 16, includes $369 billion in national climate and clean energy provisions — the largest climate investment Congress has ever made.
“We want to capture that momentum,” Clark said.
Anyone can join the conversation about climate action in Michigan. The Climate Solutions Council’s quarterly virtual meeting is open to the public, and the Council accepts written comments 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 — most in manufacturing (57 percent) and construction (21.7 percent) — the state leads the Midwest in its clean energy workforce and ranks fifth nationally. In August, the latest U.S. energy and employment report placed Michigan at No. 8. Energy sector employment growth in 2020-21 ranks first in the nation. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, clean energy has rebounded faster than the state’s overall economy.
Recent large clean energy business investments in Michigan include:
Recent national actions include:
- Sept. 7 and 8, Governor. Whitmer signs executive directive to create jobs in Michigan, ensuring state departments and agencies use tax credits and other resources in IRAs to strengthen Michigan’s manufacturing advantage, advance its energy and mobility leadership, and empower workers to succeed capabilities; and reduce operating costs and make Michigan more competitive by reducing energy and supply chain costs and continuing to improve permitting processes.
- Governor Whitmer’s four bipartisan annual state budgets have invested tens of millions of dollars to improve and upgrade clean energy for state facilities, homes, local governments, places of worship and small businesses, and continue to invest in the nation’s first non-profit organization. For-Profit Green Bank – Michigan Savings Small Businesses and Working Families Funding Energy Improvements.
- The governor also announced that by 2025, all Michigan facilities will use 100 percent renewable energy.
- Michigan is partnering with the governors of Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin to advance the Lake Michigan Electric Vehicle Tour, a network of electric vehicle chargers that spans 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 project of Detroit-based smart city technology leader NextEnergy. Dearborn, Flint and Marquette selected as first phase of three-year MiNextCities pilot project to address climate change, increase resilience, improve infrastructure, and accelerate adoption of clean energy, smart city technologies and efficient mobile solutions.
- The MHCP expects that, as part of its focus on environmental justice, 40% or more of state and federal funding for climate-related initiatives will benefit disadvantaged communities. August, Governor. Whitmer joins Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) announcing Michigan Strategic Fund approval of more than $2.8 million in training center equipment grants to 74 training providers across 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, which launched in 2021 to provide free or reduced-cost community college tuition to students 25 and older who have not yet earned a degree. With bipartisan support from the Legislature, an additional $55 million in appropriations for fiscal 2023 was recently approved. More information is available on MEDC’s Michigan Workforce and Talent website.