What does the appointment of Jennifer Granholm’s Energy Secretariat mean for Michigan


Biden’s climate program

If it does, experts say Michigan can expect Granholm’s Department of Energy to invest in scientific research and industrial innovation to transform the country’s energy and transportation sector. This could include research into battery storage and solar technologies, incentives for industry to adopt and expand these technologies, and new consumer tax incentives to start selling electric vehicles.

BidenThe “Back to the Right” plan aims to achieve “dramatic cost reductions” for clean energy technologies to shift the U.S. economy away from fossil fuels. This work is planned to be “stimulated by innovation in our national laboratories and universities”.

While the bulk of the energy department’s budget is spent on the country’s nuclear weapons program, the department also plays a key role in promoting energy innovation. It operates 17 national laboratories that research renewable energy technologies such as more efficient solar cells, wind energy, renewable energy storage cells and the modernization of the electricity grid.

Stanley “Skip” Pruss, who led the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth under Granholm, called it a “policy” who knows how such research and incentive programs can accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.

“The constraint is not the willingness to implement, but the resources and bandwidth required to implement,” he said.

Biden also promised to create 1 million new automotive jobs and appointed another Midwest team, Pete Buttigieg, to lead the Department of Transportation. Rabe said he expected Granholm to work closely with Buttigieg and Climate Tsar Gina McCarthy on complementary programs to achieve Biden’s goals.

Sridhar Kota, a professor of engineering at the University of Michigan who was the director of advanced manufacturing for the Obama administration, said it’s not enough to just invest in research and development.

Granholm said it would be wise to coordinate with deep-pocketed federal departments to create a market for the technology of which he is head of department. One example, he said, would persuade the Department of Defense to purchase U.S.-made electric vehicles for its military bases.

“This is how you build a base for industry growth,” he said. “You can’t just create the technology and then leave everything else to the free market.”

THE On November 7, Detroit News believed that many saw the work of the energy secretary as a public career. Granholm made the usual voice and insisted that Michigan declare the path to economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic as an investment in a low-carbon economy.

Michigan Republican strategist John Selleck has indicated that many Republicans do not take this message. They’re choosing “flabbergae,” Selleck said because Granholm’s economic recovery efforts “didn’t disappear” when he was governor, and since leaving office he has focused on “attacking Republicans, not Republicans, as political administrators and party functionaries. as an energy expert. “

But Selleck said Granholm’s continuation of “Motor City” fits well into Biden’s political agenda for automating the automotive industry. He thought Granholm’s appointment would be seen by automotive industry leaders as a “net plus”.

Proponents of the renewable energy industry are also celebrating the election. Laura Sherman, president of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council, praised the choice as evidence that Biden is serious about making the Midwest manufacturing sector part of the U.S. economy’s plans to decarbonize.

Granholm’s knowledge of manufacturing infrastructure and manpower, he said, “is as important to the realization of the future as the lofty political ideas you might find from a state like California.”

Mixed heritage

As governor, Granholm offered tax breaks to advanced battery manufacturers and supported a law that says 10 percent of Michigan’s energy comes from renewable sources by 2015.

This policy, said Jim Saber, president and CEO of NextEnergy’s energy innovation nonprofit, is a field of more ambitious climate change commitments for future politicians.

Earlier this year, Governor Gretchen Whitmer promised to make Michigan carbon-neutral by 2050. The Michigan Civil Service Commission is in the midst of a multifaceted process to rush along to Michigan’s transition to clean energy.

But Granholm’s battery investments had more mixed results. While some companies that received government incentives continued to thrive in Michigan, others struggled.

Lithium-ion battery maker A123 Systems received hundreds of millions of dollars in federal and state subsidies and tax breaks, filing for bankruptcy in 2012 alone because demand for advanced batteries fell short. Last year, the company announced it would lay off 42 people while quitting production in Michigan to focus on research and development.

Kristin Dziczek, vice president of industry, labor and economics at the Automotive Research Center, links this result to the dangers of innovation: “Sometimes the cutting edge is the bleeding edge.”

Granholm’s incentives for advanced batteries were “a little too soon,” he said, because U.S. vehicle manufacturers pretty much don’t produce vehicles that would need such a battery. But Michigan has “laid the foundation for the future of the electric vehicle,” and expects Granholm to introduce similar incentive programs in his new federal role if the Senate confirms it.

The number of electrified vehicles manufactured in America is expected to more than triple in the next two years, Dziczek said. There is a lack of a high-speed charging network that makes it as easy to refuel an electric car battery as it is to refuel a gas tank.

The Department of Energy could help, he said, by funding research and development into charging technologies and upgrading the U.S. electricity grid, which will be needed to support the transition from gas to electricity-based transportation.

Experts say the Granholm appointment is the most important strategic step on the part of the Biden government to reassure America’s industrial Midwest, whose economic heyday was the era of gas-dazzling vehicles and coal-fired power plants.

It’s also a pragmatic choice, ”said Saber, a NextEnergy employee. Many of the technologies needed to green the nation’s energy and transportation sectors exist or will be implemented soon. But the country “needs a way to scale these technologies”.

Granholm’s experience with automakers and other industrial sectors will serve that purpose well, he said.

“We know how to scale things up,” Saber said. – This is our history.