Andy Balaskovitz

Andy Balaskovitz

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

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.

GRAND RAPIDS — Kent County immigration advocates are raising money for a fund that’s meant to keep some residents from being detained as they await immigration hearings.

HOLLAND — A lakeshore company has received $200,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy to advance the development of utility-scale energy storage.

Five weeks before a pair of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio rocked the nation, community leaders in Grand Rapids held a press conference on the city’s southeast side to address the city’s recent spike in gun violence. 

Michigan has had its share of blackouts and brownouts over the years. Could “greenouts” be on the horizon? 

News stories published over the past three months have said the Michigan State Police was preparing to both “crack down” on black market marijuana activity and also let it “slide” because of a lack of resources.

Nearly 600 Michigan communities have reportedly opted out of allowing recreational marijuana businesses, which experts say is the result of uncertainty clouding the 2018 ballot initiative.

A proposed settlement between Consumers Energy and independent power producers could lead to hundreds of megawatts of solar power being built within the next four years.

Leading business groups support Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s latest attempt to boost the number of Michigan contractors on state projects, but hope the plan doesn’t ultimately deter small businesses from engaging in a “cumbersome” procurement process.

The burgeoning market for CBD, a health product derived from cannabis plants that avoid the “high” from marijuana, is considered “low-hanging fruit” for the nearly 600 Michigan farmers now growing hemp.

Michigan is one of seven states with discriminatory clean energy laws because they favor locally produced content, a World Trade Organization panel ruled last month. 

Officials in Muskegon and Holland say they’re responding to voters as they take disparate approaches to medical marijuana businesses.

bipartisan group of state lawmakers wants Michigan to be a national leader in building out a connected network of electric vehicle charging stations, a key barrier to adoption as automakers plan more electric models for customers. 

Michigan’s largest utilities are giving a substantial boost to an economic development program launched by former Gov. Rick Snyder, committing to spend billions of additional dollars with in-state suppliers over the next five years.