green jobs

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Michigan’s republican  primary was last week, but that doesn’t mean presidential candidates are done courting voters.

A U.S. Green Party presidential hopeful, Jill Stein met with supporters in Michigan to tout her party’s platform.

Stein talked with a small group yesterday at a Amer's deli in Ann Arbor about what she calls her “Green New Deal.”

She says the Deal focuses on living wages and green technology.

Ford Motor Company / Flickr

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) - Solar energy product maker Energy Conversion Devices Inc. says it has temporarily suspended manufacturing and is planning about 500 job cuts.

The Auburn Hills-based company announced Tuesday that manufacturing has been halted because of excess inventory. The company says about 400 workers will be furloughed at its manufacturing facilities in Michigan, Mexico and Ontario, Canada.

The production cuts include United Solar Ovonic facilities in Greenville, where more than 140 layoffs recently were announced. Other Michigan manufacturing facilities are in Auburn Hills.

The company said that to help cut costs about 500 full-time job cuts were expected by the end of the year.

Energy Conversion Devices has been restructuring its operations since May. It said it expects to return to normal production levels within 60 days.

The U.S. Green Building Council’s annual conference was held in Toronto this week.  “Greenbuild 2011” was four days of seminars, classes, and discussions about how to construct buildings and homes, using more environmentally friendly methods. 

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The two acre park is a step towards the city’s goal to have every Grand Rapids resident live within ¼ mile of some kind of greenspace. That goal has been difficult to achieve since nearly all of the city’s land has already been developed. Plus, city government has been cutting down on spending for years.

13-year old Ashley Jones remembers the old vacant lot where the park is now. She refered to it as a ‘hot mess’ before the renovations.

“It looked crazy. It had the prickles when you walked it would stick on your shoes. There was no shade or nothing. And it was kind of boring.”

Construction is underway on a huge plant in Holland that will eventually produce hundreds of thousands of battery packs for electric vehicles, including the Chevy Volt. Under a new agreement signed this week, Grand Rapids Community College will help train potential employees for the company, LG Chem.

Mary Hofstra is with GRCC. She helped design this and similar programs at the college.

 “Our goal as a school is to be working with these new battery facilities and to design the curriculum needed to support that industry. So that people can come here, get their college certificate, one year certificate. Maybe it’s going to be a job training model where someone comes for a 20 week period of time to learn the basics to get into that field. It’s going to bring a lot of opportunity beyond just the few that are coming to area.”

Under the agreement, the college will train more than 3,000 employees the company expects to hire over the next two decades. LG Chem will pay for their employees’ training through payroll taxes.

warrenski / Creative Commons

Right now, the county rotates growing corn, soybeans and alfalfa on a giant, 11,000 acre plot of land where their waste water treatment plant is. They hope to lease out the land in order to add wind farming to the mix.

Mark Eisenbarth directs Muskegon County’s Wastewater Management System. He says they hope to build up to 75 commercial-sized wind turbines on the site. Eisenbarth says there are dozens of municipalities in Michigan with small turbines or even a handful of large ones. But he says this project will be unique.

“To actually get into a wind project where you’re actually creating 75 to 100 megawatts, we are not aware of any municipality, I’m not saying there’s not any, but I have not seen any yet.”

Muskegon County is soliciting proposals to create a wind farm that would generate between 75 and 100 megawatts. They expect to begin reviewing those proposals by May.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The annual West Michigan Economic forecast was held today in Grand Rapids. Hari Singh is an economist at Grand Valley State University. He expects employment will increase 2% in the region this year .