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Andy Balaskovitz

Andy Balaskovitz

Advocates in West Michigan have spent nearly two years pitching Property Assessed Clean Energy financing to Kent County officials as one more tool in the Grand Rapids region’s economic development toolbox.

While a competitive tax structure was important, Las Vegas-based Switch Communications Group LLC had a different prerequisite before even considering opening a cloud-based data center in Michigan: reliable, renewable energy. 

As the price of wind and solar energy declines and even falls in line with fossil fuels, some policymakers have started to wonder if it’s time to expand Michigan’s renewable energy mandates.

Despite a growing number of plug-in electric vehicles on display at this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit, industry analysts say the segment has failed to reach the “aspirational” levels many had hoped.

Business advocates in Michigan are applauding the Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder over changes made late last year to the state’s abandoned and unclaimed property process.

Television stations around Michigan and nationwide are considering auctioning off valuable broadcast spectrum for potentially tens of millions of dollars to make room for mobile wireless development.

If any meaningful policy changes at the state level are to happen in 2016, they will likely come at the bookends of the Legislature’s session, observers say.

Amid tax law challenges, another potential complication with Switch Communications Inc.’s proposed move to Michigan is how the energy-intensive company would secure a reliable electricity supply. That’s particularly the case if Switch wants to power its data center with renewable sources, as it does with its Nevada operations.

Michigan corn growers are disappointed by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announcement on Nov. 30 that they say fails to require enough corn-based ethanol to be blended into the nation’s fuel supply.

State lawmakers could likely establish a system to tax and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries this month, but many question whether those businesses will ever thrive in West Michigan.

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