News Story

Granholm’s Green Energy Boondoggles No Bar To Selection As Biden’s Energy Secretary

Former Michigan governor finally gets gig 12 years after pitching herself to President-elect Obama

In November 2008, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm applied to become President-elect Barack Obama's secretary of energy.

She wrote in an email on Nov. 8, 2008: “As we briefly discussed, in Michigan I have focused like a laser on replacing our dwindling manufacturing jobs with clean tech and renewable energy jobs.”

Obama did not select Granholm, but the first Democratic president elected since him has come through for the former governor. President-elect Joe Biden has picked Granholm to be his secretary of energy, according to media reports.

When promoting her credentials for the job in 2008, Granholm mentioned several green energy companies she had used state taxpayer money to subsidize.

“Michigan is proud to partner with Mascoma as part of our commitment to lead the nation in alternative energy production,” Granholm quoted herself in the leaked WikiLeaks email that was released in 2016.

Mascoma was awarded $26 million from the U.S. Department of Energy and $23.5 million from the state of Michigan to convert biomass into ethanol. In 2008, the company said that by the end of 2012 it would have 70 people working in a facility to be built in Kinross Township in Chippewa County.

The facility was never built.

Granholm also cited United Solar Ovonic in her pitch.

“United Solar Ovonic is a great example of the type of investment needed to ensure Michigan’s economic success in the 21st century,” Granholm quoted herself.

The company was said to be a manufacturer of flexible thin-film modules, and was approved for a $17.3 million state tax credit in 2008, to be paid out over 20 years.

According to Granholm, United Solar Ovonic would create 700 Michigan jobs.

But instead, it went out of business.

Granholm also oversaw several other green energy failures.

For example, a company called A123 Systems had claimed it could create 3,000 jobs at an advanced battery plant in Livonia. Then-President Obama phoned into a September 2010 Granholm press conference to promote the company. A123 Systems eventually filed for bankruptcy in October 2012 and was bought by the Chinese company Wanxiang Group.

Azure Dynamics, a hybrid electric technology company in Oak Park, and Evergreen Solar, a solar power company in Midland, also promised jobs under Granholm’s tenure. They went out of business a few years later.

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.