News Story

Five Years Later, Granholm's Green Economic Vision has Failed to Materialize

Former governor said Michigan would be the capital of green energy

According to the press releases issued by the administration of then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm five years ago, Michigan's economy was undergoing a transformation.

In a June 2010 press release, Granholm declared that the company LG Chem in Holland was making Michigan “a world capital for advanced batteries.”

In October of 2010, she said in a press release about a proposed biogas facility in Reed City that the state was being transformed into “the clean energy capital of North America.”

Five years later, plans for a biogas facility in Reed City died and LG Chem was made to repay $842,000 from a federal stimulus grant after employees from the Holland battery plant were paid to watch movies, play games or volunteer at local non-profits.

The vision Granholm had for transforming Michigan’s economy has not materialized in this state from biogas to advanced batteries to solar and wind power.

In 2012, the Heritage Foundation put together a list of 19 federally supported green energy companies that filed for bankruptcy. Four of the nation’s top eight came from Michigan.

A Sept. 2013 report from another Granholm program called the "Centers of Energy Excellence" found that in 2008 six companies received $188 million in federal money and another $43 million from the state to create a projected 995 jobs by 2012. The subsidies supported activities ranging from an ethanol "biorefinery" to a "green" chemical manufacturer and production of "advanced" batteries for electrical cars. By 2013, the six companies combined to produce just 44 full-time jobs. By comparison, Michigan’s economy created nearly 200,000 jobs in the first quarter of 2014.

“The failure of Michigan’s green energy programs is just one more illustration of a hard and fast economic rule: if people aren’t willing to pay for something out of user fees, it isn’t worth doing,” said Randal O’Toole, a senior fellow at Cato Institute.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.