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    Tour the Lake Winds Energy Park at the 2012 Michigan Energy Fair

Tour the Lake Winds Energy Park at the 2012 Michigan Energy Fair

Every year the  Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association (GLREA) holds their annual Michigan Energy Fair (MEF). The Energy Fair takes place June 22-24, 2012 and it’s at a new location, the Mason County Fairgrounds in Ludington.

The location will allow the MEF to feature tours of Consumers Energy’s Lake Winds Energy Park that is currently under construction. This 100-megawatt installation will hold over 50 wind turbines, and the tour will give you a unique opportunity to see wind turbines as they are being constructed.

This is exactly the kind of opportunity to get up close and personal with the technology and people who are creating Michigan’s new energy economy that MEF offers. With a focus on Michigan’s energy future options and how Michigan’s businesses and families can save energy and money, the Energy Fair will feature over 50 workshops and 40 exhibitors of energy technologies and sustainable products for homes and businesses, including how to finance renewable energy projects.

For more information, please contact Samantha Keeney at or 517-646-6269 and get details at Also don’t miss this interview with John Sarver, Executive Director of the GLREA about the Michigan Energy Fair.

Earth Day 2012 in Michigan

Untitled by Brooke Pennington
Untitled by Brooke Pennington

Sunday (April 22) is the 42nd Earth Day. Here’s some highlights from this morning’s Earth Day post on Michigan in Pictures - don’t miss the CBS News segment on Albion featuring Walter Kronkite from Earth Day 1970 below!

TEDxMacatawa: Chris Klein on Seeing Unique Abilities

TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, and TEDx was created to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate relevant dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level. These events are fully planned and coordinated independently, on a community-by-community basis, and every Tuesday we’re featuring a talk from a Michigan TEDx – many more at TEDxMichigan and you can also click for a list of TEDx events in Michigan!

The theme of this year’s TEDxMacatawa was “Do More Good.” They brought together a group of 16 local “Doing Leaders” to share their stories, ideas, hopes and dreams and show how adventurous, passionate people are creating a collective “Good” in the community through the confluence of Technology, Entertainment and Design. You can see all the speakers at that link!

Chris Klein is a voice to those that have none and helping hand to those with disabilities, even though he was born with cerebral palsy and uses augmentative communication to help him interact with the rest of the world. Over the past four years, Chris has been working closely with people that use AAC. He has recently been elected president of USSAAC (United States Society of Augmentative Alternative Communication). He has also formed an organization called BeCOME AAC. It stands for Building Connections with Others through Mentoring and Education about AAC.

We hope you enjoy his talk on augmentative communication, and that it helps you feel a little more comfortable interacting with people who use AAC and in seeing their unique abilities and talents.

TEDx … Michigan

TEDxGR by tedxgrandrapids
TEDxGR by tedxgrandrapids

TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader and has branched to include TEDx.

TEDx was created to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate relevant dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level. These events are fully planned and coordinated independently, on a community-by-community basis.

The heart of TED and TEDx are talks by leaders in their field about the subject of their passion. The thousands of talks online feature some of the best thinking about who we are and where we’re going that you will find anywhere. The TEDxTalks are available on YouTube, and every Tuesday (or so) we’ll feature talks from TEDx events in Michigan that deal with some of the specific issues we’re facing. Find them at TEDxMichigan on Absolute Michigan!

For an idea about the scope, here’s a listing of upcoming and past TEDx events in Michigan. Bear in mind that admission to these events is highly coveted, so if you are interested in attending, get engaged as soon as you can!

Below the listing we have the first of our videos. It’s from last year’s TEDxGrandRapids and features Sheryl Connelly, manager of Global Trends and Futuring at Ford Motor Company talking about how to think like a futurist, and also how to get the most out of TEDx.

Clouds over the solar industry

Stan Ovshinsky by OnInnovation
Stan Ovshinsky by OnInnovation

In ECD files for Chapter 11 protection, the Freep reports that:

The shakeout in the solar power industry claimed another victim Tuesday as Auburn Hills-based Energy Conversion Devices (ECD) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and announced plans to sell its assets, including its main subsidiary, United Solar Ovonic. (links are our addition)

The move brings to an end the 51-year history of one of the most innovative companies in the state, a pioneer of nickel-metal-hydride batteries and thin-film solar laminates.

“I have tears in my eyes thinking about it,” said Stanford Ovshinsky, ECD’s 89-year-old founder who retired from the company in 2007. “It’s more than sadness. It’s grief.”

ECD is the latest victim of an industry-wide convergence of over-supply and the drying up of subsidies. What may be lost in the story is the significance of Energy Convergence Devices as a force for innovation. For more about that, check out this OnInnovation interview of ECD founder Stan Ovshinsky – click his name for more at

Google Search Stories: Ypsilanti’s SolarYpsi Project

YouTube and Google have a feature called “Search Stories” about people who are using Google’s search to find new ways of doing things. One of the people they profile is Dave Strenski of Ypsilanti, who you can learn more about in the video below.

Dave and some like-minded individuals created SolarYpsi in 2005 with the hope of making their hometown a solar power destination through tying solar power generation to the electrical grid.

Their web site showcases real-time reporting of electrical production via solar panels, tracking panels are located on top of the Ypsilanti Food Coop, the Riverstreet Bakery, Ypsilanti City Hall and an Ann Arbor Transportation Authority bus stop.

Here’s Google’s Search Story Creator in case you want to try your hand. Head over to for more Michigan solar information.


Michigan’s Clean Energy act generating results

Clouds are Cooler than Smoke by Jon DeBoer
Clouds are Cooler than Smoke by Jon DeBoe

I guess it’s Coal Week on Absolute Michigan. After taking a look back at the history of coal mining in the Saginaw Valley on Tuesday, we’re back on the subject with news from the Great Lakes Echo.

Michigan coal-fired plants to close; wind and air to step up by Nick McWherter of the Capital News Service says that Consumers Energy will close seven coal-fired power plants in Michigan and has cancelled construction of another to focus on clean energy. In their news release on the topic, Consumer’s President & CEO John Russell said that their investments – part of a $6.6 billion plan to add value to customers and improve the environment - were projected to create more than 2,000 construction jobs in Michigan and provide significant emissions reductions. Environmentalists concur:

“There are simply smarter ways to produce energy then relying on coal,” said Bruce Nilles, national director for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. The inherent costs associated with mining and burning coal make clean energy more attractive, he said. Economically and environmentally, coal does not make sense.

Michigan is now in position to make strides in clean energy throughout the state, he said.

“There is a significant shift going on in the electric sector,” Nilles said. “Michigan has a chance to really be at the forefront. It has one of the oldest coal fleets in the country; many of these plants are literally teetering. It presents a tremendous opportunity to put people back to work and eliminate all the pollution that today is having such profound impacts across the state of Michigan.”

The motivation for the decision is Michigan’s Clean, Renewable and Efficient Energy act. Established in 2008, the act requires utilities to supply 10% of their energy via renewables by 2015. Consumers is the second largest utility in the state and is at 5% renewable generation right now. Last month they also started construction of their first wind-farm, the Lake Winds Energy Park, part of a $1 billion investment in Mason County. Follow that link for details and a video from the Muskegon Chronicle.

Rural Broadband Works … and could work for Michigan

On October 3rd an organization called “Broadband WORKS for Rural America” is bringing together hundreds of individuals and groups from around the country to Washington, DC in order send a message that rural America needs increased wireless broadband access in order to grow the economy and bring jobs to those who need it most. Absolute Michigan fully supports investment in rural broadband and an overall broadband strategy that can help put Michigan in a position to grow and attract 21st century businesses. Mr. Lesich is a Michigan small business owner who has penned this informative feature – definitely check out the links!

by Michael Lesich

The Red Scorpion Tower by jacalynsnana
The Red Scorpion Tower by jacalynsnana

Michigan is transitioning from its 20th Century industrial roots to a global, interconnected, knowledge- based economy. Decisions about the future of our state’s economic direction are being made in the boardrooms of private companies and the halls of our state capitol. The most important innovation of my lifetime, the Internet, relies increasingly on a solid broadband infrastructure (land-based and mobile), to carry exponentially increasing traffic. Robust and universal access to the Internet is vital to the companies and residents of Michigan and the United States. However, we are still a long way from that critical goal.

As an owner of a small IT company, I know firsthand the benefits that come from readily available broadband access. We embrace telecommuting, remote access, and online education. We have the ability to hire the best person for the job, regardless of their location. Today’s knowledge workers, and their employers, benefit from telecommuting arrangements that reduce traffic, increase productivity, and enhance the quality of the products and services they provide.

TEDx Detroit brings the power of ideas to the Motor City

X Marks the Spot - TEDxDetroit by slaytercreative
X Marks the Spot – TEDxDetroit by slaytercreative

Check out his awesome TEDx Detroit slideshow too!

The 3rd annual TEDx Detroit takes place next Wednesday (September 28). TEDx events are locally planned & independently organized, designed to capture the flavor of the incredible TED conferences that bring together the finest minds in the world to share ideas with the power to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world.

TEDx Detroit will feature some of the region’s leading creators, catalysts, entrepreneurs, artists, technologists, designers, scientists, thinkers and doers sharing what they are most passionate about – positive ideas for the world from Detroit & Michigan. Some of the featured speakers include Julie Clark, a former English and art teacher from Detroit, started The Baby Einstein Company in her basement, Bobby Smith of En Garde Detroit who has used fencing to connect with thousands of kids and Rob Bliss, the 22 year old social event wunderkind Grand Rapids who has created the world’s largest pillow fight, zombie walk and LipDub video.

TEDx Detroit on FacebookThey have closed pre-registration but will announce how to get remaining tickets tomorrow right here, and they will also soon have information about how to watch live on Wednesday! There’s more TEDx coming around the state. Check out TEDx Flint (October 22) and stay tuned to Absolute Michigan for information about more!

Here’s a video taking you inside a previous TEDx Detroit. You’ll also want to check out Why do we produce TEDx Detroit? by Charlie Curve.

Saginaw students discover 2 wrecks in Project Shiphunt

The Project Shiphunt Students

The Project Shiphunt Students

mLive has a nice feature on some Michigan students who helped discover 2 wrecks in Lake Huron. 122 years ago, the 138-foot schooner M.F. Merrick was hit by the steel freighter Etruria, sinking both ships. The students used historical records and diving experts to identify the ships, and helped to document the vessels in 3-D for the newest exhibit at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center. The article explains that:

…the crew of Project Shiphunt — which included five high school students from Saginaw — had identified two previously undiscovered wrecks in more than 300 feet of water just outside of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

“That was just powerful, to be the first human eyes to look at these since they went to the bottom,” said James Delgado, director of Maritime Heritage at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and expedition leader for Project Shiphunt. “We were looking for a ship that was sunk in a collision, and we ended up finding two other ships that were sunk in a collision.”

Shiphunt-ROVThe project was a joint venture sponsored by Sony and Intel corporations that incorporated technology, oceanography, archeology and history into a hands-on curriculum that brought history to life for the Saginaw students during six days in May. The students directed the mission, charted the map in search of the steamer Choctaw, and manned the massive research vessels as they painted the floor of Lake Huron with triple-beam and side-scan sonars.

You can learn more about Project Shiphunt in a video from Sony/Intel. Definitely watch this if you can – it’s a very cool video and shows how engaged the students were with the actual work of exploration. The documentary will air on the Current cable channel at 10 PM on Aug. 30th so check that out too!

To my mind, this is what education should be. Here’s a 3D visualization of the ROV exploring the MF Merrick that’s pretty neat as well.

3D Shipwreck - MF Merrick with ROV from Mike Postons on Vimeo.