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Greening Industry Grows In Michigan

Aggressive recruiting starting to show results statewide

January 2, 2009 | By Keith Schneider
Great Lakes Bulletin News Service

Part Two of a two-part article

While the state Legislature wrangled over clean energy standards that could spur more green-collar investment in Michigan, efforts by the governor and other state and local officials attracted renewable energy manufacturing to Michigan.

Here are some of the clean energy projects that Michigan now supports with tax breaks:

Dowding Industries, a manufacturer of wind turbine components, just received an order from Vestas, the Danish wind turbine maker, that is bringing a new $7 million plant to Eaton Rapids, along with 350 new green-collar jobs.

Hemlock Semiconductor, which makes polysilicon for photovoltaic panels, is building a new $1 billion facility near Midland, providing 500 new green-collar jobs.

A123Systems, a Massachusetts-based lithium-ion battery developer, is building a center for the transportation and alternative energy sectors, in partnership with the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. The new facility is part of a new, state-sponsored $325 million incentive program to encourage the development of an advanced battery industry for next-generation vehicle, wind, and solar energy storage.

Energy Conversion Devices plans to build a new solar cell manufacturing plant in Battle Creek and hire 350 new employees to work there within three years.

Fulcrum Composites plans to hire 130 new employees as part of its operations manufacturing solar panels in Midland.

Mariah Power, a Nevada-based manufacturer, is partnering with MasTech Manufacturing of Manistee to build urban-friendly, 30-foot tall, propeller-free turbines for homes and commercial applications and develop roughly 120 new jobs.

Noble Environmental Power, a wind power developer based in Essex, Conn., is constructing Michigan's newest wind park, near the Thumb community of Ubly. The Noble Thumb I Windpark will generate 69 megawatts of clean energy using 46 General Electric-built E 1.5 megawatt turbines, which is enough to power about 23,000 average homes. Noble estimates the project will create approximately 85 new construction jobs, and will result in more than $3.5 million in property tax payments over the next 20 years.

United Solar Ovonic, a subsidiary of Energy Conversion Devices, started hiring the first of 400 new employees for its expanding solar panel manufacturing plant in Greenville. The company, based in Auburn Hills, recently began planning for a 120-megawatt production expansion to reach 300 megawatts in annual manufacturing capability by the end of 2010. There are currently 242 workers at the plant and United Solar expects employment to reach approximately 800 at capacity.

Dow plans to invest approximately $50 million in a project to enable solar energy generation materials to be incorporated directly into the design of commercial and residential building materials. The company plans to build a 7,500-square-foot addition for new machinery and equipment in Midland.

Evergreen, a Massachusetts-based manufacturer of solar panels, is building a $55.2 million plant in Midland’s Eastwick Industrial Park to create materials for the company’s proprietary wafer technology.

Allegheny Technologies Inc. Casting Service, which manufactures castings for wind turbines and other markets, is expanding to Alpena, where it plans to develop 150 new jobs.

Danotek Motion Technologies, a manufacturer for power generation industries and advanced automotive applications, plans to expand and relocate to Plymouth Township to manufacture up to three-megawatt variable-speed generators for wind turbines, creating 141 jobs.

Carlton Creek Ironwood plans to create 70 new jobs at a foundry in Rothbury to produce high-grade ductile windmill iron for windmill castings.

Mascoma Corporation is building one of the country’s first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plants, south of Sault Ste. Marie in the Upper Peninsula. Executives say the plant could open by 2011 to make wood fuel from wood chips. The $250 million plant, supported by $49.3 million in state and federal funds, will generate 400 to 600 permanent new industrial jobs.

Global Wind Systems, which has developed a 1.5 MW wind turbine, plans to invest $32.3 million to open its first production facility in Novi, where it plans to employ 356 workers within five years. It plans to source 100 percent of its components from U.S.-based manufacturers and focus on suppliers in Michigan and other Great Lakes states.

To see Part One of this article, click here.

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