attended the 2008 Michigan Energy Fair on Friday, June 27th in Onekama, Mi, at the Manistee County Fairgrounds. Organized by the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association (GLREA), the fair features a variety of opportunities to learn about sustainable energy and sustainable living from exhibits, renewable energy home tours, workshops and keynote addresses.

The Manistee County Fairgrounds in Onekama are about an hour’s drive southwest from our Traverse City offices. There were nearly 100 exhibitors there, and we talked to as many as we could. Outside the exhibit hall, there were home-scale windmills, solar panels mounted on trailers and alternative fuel vehicles. We visited with as many folks inside the exhibit hall as possible, trying to capture a glimpse of all that is available today to help Michigan and the whole nation improve our energy practices. Some of the companies you’ll see include:

  • Green World Biofuels
  • Michigan Environmental Council
  • Bauer Power
  • Solar Works
  • Luma Resources
  • Michigan Energy Alternatives Project
  • Team Elmers
  • Cherryland Electric Cooperative
  • Eco Building Products
  • Windemuller
  • Contractors Building Supply, Inc.

We were also able to catch Governor Jennifer Granholm’s speech, where she announced a new biomass production plant in the Upper Peninsula. And she talked about the energy legislation she proposed in her 2008 State of the State address. shares the highlights of the governor’s speech where she tells the audience, “The sky is the limit!”

At the time of the Energy Fair, the energy legislation mentioned in the governor’s speech was being reviewed in Michigan’s Congress; it passed in Michigan’s House and Senate in September. And the governor promises to sign it into law as soon as it reaches her desk.

"This legislation will spark the investment in alternative energy we need to create jobs and diversify our economy," Granholm said. "It will also ensure that the energy we need to heat our homes and power our businesses will be clean and affordable for generations to come."

The bipartisan energy package she proposed will create jobs, diversify Michigan’s economy and save customers money on their electric bills by ensuring that the bulk of Michigan’s future energy needs are met by renewable energy resources and energy efficiency savings.

The U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE) estimates that Michigan has the potential to be one of the top eight states for wind energy generation in the country, making Michigan an attractive customer market for wind turbine manufacturers. The USDOE has also cited a study by the Renewable Energy Policy Project that found Michigan is the fourth best-positioned state to expand wind power manufacturing jobs. Many wind turbine manufacturers are sold out of their product for one or two years down the road.

What does that mean to Northern Michigan? Steve Smiley has a plan for Northern Michigan towns to become energy self- sufficient for electricity and heating—no more coal, no more oil, no more nuke. Is he crazy or what? To find out, you’ll want to read Jeff Smith’s article, Mr. Smiley’s Windmill Wars in Northern Michigan.

And if you’d like to know more about green home design, you’ll want to catch our video of Danny Forster, the host of Discovery Channel’s 2007 show, Build It Bigger. He walks us through his first solo architectural project—an exciting, innovative green home in Omena, on the shores of Lake Michigan.

The 2008 Energy Fair is produced by the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association. The Renewable Energy Association is a non-profit organization that educates, advocates, promotes, and publicly demonstrates renewable energy technologies. Contact: 257 South Bridge Street, PO Box 346, Dimondale, MI 48821, 517-646-6269,

Note: Please write us a note in the comments section below if you’d like us to upload the governor’s complete speech online.