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Grant helped Skandia man to energize home

May 30, 2008
By MIRIAM MOELLER, Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE - In 2001 Skandia resident Mike Holman applied for a grant from the Michigan Energy Office that allowed him to purchase four 400-watt windmills, a static converter, batteries and a solar panel for about $2,000. Without state assistance, he said, his alternative energy equipment - which has been generating his electricity ever since - would not have been affordable. "I found out there was a large state of Michigan grant that paid a large portion of it," Holman said. But, he added, such state grants for individual homeowners are no longer available. The state's emphasis on providing renewable energy grants has shifted, with Gov. Jennifer Granholm's current plan focusing on business, according to Jennifer Binkley-Power, program manager for local energy education center Northern Options. "I think what she's now concentrating on is economic growth and more business incentives," she said. Binkley-Power closely follows the developments in renewable energy legislation at the state level. She said three recent bills - Renewable Energy Standard, Energy Efficiency Programs and Utility Regulation - passed the House and are now up for a vote in the Senate. They all focus on getting utilities to "go green" by generating more power from renewables, looking for ways to conserve energy use and becoming more efficient. "It's the first time we ever had such energy policies," she said. "They would offer some services for energy efficiency, and they would offer money for utilities to run energy efficient programs for their customers." Holman has been into alternative energy and "green" building for many years - he even built a cordwood building with a grass roof in his backyard. Holman said that he feels people pay more attention to their energy consumption when they produce their own power. "They have a connection and they're much more aware of the power they're using," he said. "When people own it like that, they're generally more conservative in using it." State and federal renewable energy grant opportunities include: ? Michigan's Energy Office, part of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth (www.michigan.gov/energyoffice) currently offers Community Energy Project Grants available to non-profit and public organizations to conduct community education projects related to renewable energy, building and transportation energy efficiency. Each one-year project proposal can request up to $6,000. The deadline is July 15. Contact: sarverj@michigan.gov Another grant program for non-profit and public organizations for 10-kilowatt photovoltaic demonstration projects that is offered by the Energy Office has actually been awarded to a school in the Upper Peninsula this year. Negaunee High School received a $50,000 grant to install solar panels at its high school. ? Tax credits for renewable energy projects can be found at the Energy Star Office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (www.energystar.gov). As part of the 2005 Energy Policy Act, these tax credits are for home improvements, cars, solar energy systems, and fuel cells. ?The U.S. Department of Agriculture (www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/index.html) is currently accepting applications for fiscal year 2008 to purchase renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements for agriculture producers and rural small businesses in eligible rural areas.

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