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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 Samantha.keeney@glrea.org or 517-646-6269 and get details at www.glrea.org. Also don’t miss this interview with John Sarver, Executive Director of the GLREA about the Michigan Energy Fair.

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.

Takin’ it easy Tuesday

The photo is Shall We? Let’s Shall by photoshoparama and I think that about all I want to add is check out Michitwitter for all kinds of Michigan news nuggets.

Photo Friday: Ludington Splash by roboink

Robert writes that he’s been into art since he was a year old. His main focus is photography, but he still does some recycled metal sculpting. He says that he took this at the public park in Ludington. One person commented that the Ludington light is a little over 50 feet tall, meaning this is 100 foot+ high splash!

He doesn’t have a ton of photo sets, but you’ll enjoy his Grand Rapids Photo Walk set (slideshow). You’ll definitely want to check out his Flickriver.

Dig Michigan: Traverse City

Traverse City is the largest city in Northwest Lower Michigan, and the first of Michigan’s regions that we are exploring this month. Our goal with this series of articles is to give you a little taste of some great vacation opportunities that are probably less than a tank of gas away, so if you have suggestions or questions about visiting the area, we’d love it if you would share them in the comments

Sunrise, East Arm, Traverse BayThe Long Crossing

A combination of Wikipedia’s Traverse City, Michigan entry and the Traverse City CVB the Grand Traverse Bay got their name from 18th century French voyagers who made la grande traverse or “the long crossing” across the mouth of the bay Grand Traverse Bay. In 1853 the only post office in the region was located at Old Mission, then known as “Grand Traverse.” While in Washington, D.C. in 1852, Tracy Lay convinced the U.S. Post Office to authorize a new post office at his newer settlement across the bay. The village was known as “Grand Traverse City,” but at the suggestion of a postal clerk the “Grand” was dropped to limit confusion.

Culinary Delights

The Grand Traverse region earns the nickname of “Cherry Capital of the World,” producing an estimated 360,000,000 pounds of cherries annually. It’s not just cherries though – the wineries of the Leelanau Peninsula and Old Mission Peninsula have risen quickly to the top due to a conducive micro-climate for growing grapes. You can enjoy the region’s agricultural bounty through a wide array of farm markets and food producers like Shetler Family Dairy, Moomers Homemade Ice Cream (named America’s Best Scoop in 2008) and Carlson’s of Fishtown. There are also at a number of great restaurants in the city and scattered throughout the area. Just a few of these to not miss are Fusion, amical, Trattoria Funistrada, The Old Mission Tavern and (of course) the Cheese Shanty.

Traverse City, in pictures

The photo above is titled Sunrise, East Arm, Traverse Bay and it was taken by Joel Dinda, who has several more from Traverse City and this set of Leelanau County photos (slideshow). As you can see from Joel’s photos, the countryside and shoreline surrounding Traverse City is some of the most beautiful in Michigan. In addition to Traverse City, some things you might want to look at include Old Mission, Sleeping Bear Dunes and of course photos of Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, Manistee & Wexford.

TJ's Pub by the pentax hammer
TJ’s Pub by the pentax hammer

But what is there to DO in Traverse City?

If you enjoy the outdoors, Northwest Michigan is the place to go. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is among the most beautiful natural areas in the nation, offering miles of untrammeled Lake Michigan coastline, hiking, camping and cultural opportunities and the world’s largest shifting sand dunes. There are many more beaches offering swimming and fishing on the area’s many inland lakes like North and South Lake Leelanau and Torch Lake. You can also hike the trails of the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, bike on the many backroads and trails including the TART Trails and the Betsie Valley Trail and enjoy golf at a dizzying number of golf courses.

If the outdoors isn’t your thing you can experience shopping in downtown Traverse City and at villages across the region. The State Theatre – home of the Traverse City Film Festival – has been beautifully restored and shows a variety of independent and classic movies every day. The region also boasts some excellent museums including the Dennos Museum, Music House (private museum), and Great Lakes Children’s Museum in Traverse City, the Manistee County Historical Museum, the Empire Area Historical Museum, Grand Traverse Lighthouse, Guntzviller’s Spirit of the Woods Museum (private) and the Carl T. Johnson Hunting & Fishing Center in Cadillac.

Where do I go for more?

You can dig deeper through Absolute Michigan by checking out Absolute Michigan county pages for Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, Manistee & Wexford and also try the pages for Traverse City, Manistee, Cadillac and many other towns that you can see on the Absolute Michigan Map of Michigan. Of course there are tons of other web sites with useful information. Some of our favorites are the Traverse City Visitors Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, MyNorth, Kalkaska County Michigan Online, the Benzie County Visitors Bureau, and our own Leelanau.com and betsiebay.net.

Photo Friday: Storm Over Ludington Dunes by The Whistling Monkey

Storm Over Ludington Dunes by The Whistling Monkey

You can see more of this storm in The Whistling Monkey’s Ludington State Park set (slideshow). In addition to cool beach and dunes, the photos include Big Sable Point Lighthouse.

He has a ton of other sets including Tiger Stadium (documenting the fall of this Michigan icon), Best of Detroit, Manistee March 07 and Michigan.