Andy Balaskovitz

Andy Balaskovitz

Contributing reporter, covers energy, policy and economic development.
Twitter: @ABalaskovitz
Email: [email protected]

Michigan officials are still months away from finalizing rules on internet gaming and sports betting, but some Michigan-based Native American tribes are taking early steps to participate in the newly legalized industry. 

Ric Evans has yet to find the electric stove he wants to install in his rural Northern Michigan home, but everything else inside is powered by electricity, including the water heater and an air source heat pump.

Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Dingell is leading an effort that would leverage $35 billion in federal funds over six years to stimulate up to $1 trillion in private spending to address climate change.

The latest attempt to expand Michigan’s successful bottle deposit law comes as communities across the state struggle to maintain recycling programs amid overseas economic pressures.

The beginnings of a large-scale solar power build-out, bolstering electric vehicle infrastructure and preparing a power grid of the future are among Michigan’s top energy-related trends expected in 2020.

After securing a victory over partisan gerrymandering in the 2018 election, organizers behind the grassroots group Voters Not Politicians have their sights set on several more state government reforms in 2020.

Shortly after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer took office in January 2019, statewide environmental groups issued an “environmental roadmap” for policy action on various conservation issues.

Legislation to expand Michigan’s 43-year-old bottle deposit law and increase recycling amid growing use of single-use plastics was met with opposition by a statewide group representing retailers and grocery stores who said the bills would do little to improve “Michigan’s dismal recycling rate.”

Consensus is building in Lansing over studying the potential for toll roads as a future transportation funding source, but whether Michigan will join the nearly three-dozen states in doing so remains unclear.

Michigan ranks among the top Midwestern states for clean energy jobs, but environmental advocates say further policy changes are needed to push the state from “good” to “great.”

As Michigan universities land tens of millions of dollars in opioid research funding, students at all age levels are learning lessons about the epidemic.

Dr. Corey Waller has traveled the country to assess hospitals’ and health care systems’ effectiveness at treating chronic pain with opioids. Waller says his findings show a lack of understanding on the part of physicians and hospital administrators to tackle the opioid epidemic head-on.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed bills into law Thursday night ensuring small-scale residential and commercial solar projects won’t increase owners’ property taxes.

The stoppage of medical device sterilization at a Grand Rapids facility by the end of the year is adding to local and national concerns about the availability of critical health care equipment.

For the past three years, roughly 6,000 employees across the U.S. for Grand Rapids-based furniture manufacturer Steelcase Inc. have had free access to an online health portal to treat addiction. 

Former Lt. Gov. Brian Calley was a vocal advocate for addressing the state’s blossoming opioid crisis during the administration of former Gov. Rick Snyder. Now as the president of the Small Business Association of Michigan, Calley has brought an increased focus on criminal justice reform issues, including policies affecting the opioid crisis.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer supports a package of bills recently approved by the state Legislature that clarifies tax exemptions for small-scale solar energy projects.

GRAND RAPIDS — While state environmental regulators and a company have reached a tentative agreement to stop sterilizing medical devices at a Grand Rapids plant, officials say their work tracking a pollutant from the facility and elsewhere is far from over.

Inside an elaborate late-19th century mansion in the Heritage Hill neighborhood overlooking downtown Grand Rapids, nearly a dozen men are undergoing substance use treatment. The building’s interior features extensive wood decor, a dining room for family-style dinners prepared by a chef, a basement gym and Tiffany stained glass. The rehab facility straddles commercial and residential areas but feels like a home.

A Q&A with Grand Rapids Red Project Executive Director Steve Alsum

For more than a decade, the Grand Rapids Red Project has been a leading organization in combating the opioid epidemic in Michigan. 

In 2017, Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration proposed and later signed into law a 10-bill package meant to be an “all-hands-on deck approach” to the opioid crisis, as former Lt. Gov. Brian Calley described it at the time. 

Clean energy advocates praised a Thursday announcement by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer highlighting the need to modernize the state’s power grid as it shifts from coal-fired power. 

The polar vortex early this year strained Michigan’s energy supply as the state experiences an “unprecedented shift” in the way it produces power and relies more heavily on natural gas and renewables, according to state regulators.

A settlement agreement approved in September between Consumers Energy and multiple solar energy developers triggers a large-scale buildout across the Lower Peninsula, but also marks a shift in the way the utility will contract for solar power in the future.

Michigan’s latest emphasis on the outdoor recreation industry serves as part of an economic development strategy that’s responding to the sector’s shifting demographics, natural resources officials say. 

State officials in Grand Rapids on Wednesday touted the economic benefits of outdoor recreation, a sprawling statewide sector encompassing major industries like manufacturing and tourism.

HOLLAND — A financing program in Holland that helps residents pay for energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades remains one of the only such programs in Michigan, and could be a model for more to come. 

Consumers Energy announced plans Thursday to purchase a majority of the output from a large-scale solar project in Calhoun County, among the first deals under the utility’s shift to renewable energy.

GRAND RAPIDS — City officials are reviving plans for a solar project at a former Grand Rapids landfill as the city sorts through broader questions about potential generation at seven other city-owned properties.

State Sen. Stephanie Chang says granting state driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants is as much of an issue of economics and public health as it is about immigration.