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Sunday, 21 July 2013 22:00

Lecture series features local companies working in alternative energy

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Alternative energy jobs do exist, and they’re being created at companies in West Michigan.

While alternative energy has its share of fanfare, an upcoming event aims to demonstrate that the sector is actually playing a role in the West Michigan economy. In short, alternative energy is good business.

The next installment of the Gerald R. Ford Energy Lecture Series, entitled “Business Opportunities in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency,” will feature a panel discussion involving four Michigan businesses that have capitalized on opportunities in alternative energy.

Each of the panelists works in a different alternative energy sector. The companies will discuss how the sector plays into their strategies, how they entered the market, their outlook for the industry, and what ripple effects might trickle throughout the supply chain.

“This is the continuing recognition that Michigan is a prime candidate for lots of jobs and lots of manufacturing opportunities in the renewable energy space,” said Bruce Goodman, a partner at Varnum LLP who practices in energy, environmental and construction law and who will serve as the panel’s moderator. “It’s intended to be a demonstration of some of our own West Michigan companies who have gotten involved in renewable energy, used their manufacturing expertise and found niches of where they can do business.”

Companies represented on the panel include:

  • Burke E. Porter Co., which applied its expertise in automotive dynamometers to testing wind turbine gearboxes.
  • Patriot Solar Group LLC, which leveraged its competency in satellite antenna manufacturing to develop products for the solar energy sector.
  • Fremont Community Digester/Novi Energy LLC, the developer of a bioenergy plant in Fremont that uses locally produced organic waste to create electricity.
  • Simms Energy LLC, which used its experience in electronics to create monitors and sensors that help improve energy efficiency.

The four companies on the panel are just the tip of the iceberg of local firms working in the sector, Goodman said.

“We just think the public and other businesses need to hear some success stories and that things really are happening,” Goodman said. “Michigan needs to be prepared to take advantage of the opportunities in renewable energy.”

For example, an analysis by The Right Place Inc. found that nearly 800 companies in West Michigan — about one third of the region’s manufacturing base — have capabilities suited for the advanced energy sector.

The event is underwritten by the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation and Varnum. The Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council, Michigan Energy Michigan Jobs, The Right Place and NextEnergy are all sponsors of the event. MiBiz is the media sponsor.

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, 303 Pearl Street NW, Grand Rapids, will host the free event at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 30. Registration is requested. Contact [email protected] or call (616) 254-0393.

Read 5413 times Last modified on Tuesday, 23 July 2013 16:15

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