Clean energy conference coming to Northern MI

Groundwork’s Michigan Clean Energy Conference convenes energy industry leaders and policymakers in Traverse City, May 21–23, at a technological and cultural moment that few would have thought possible just five years ago.

Solar, wind and energy efficiency technologies are surging. Our major utilities are closing coal plants early. Michigan’s largest manufacturers and tech companies are demanding to be powered by clean energy. And, adding an exclamation point to all of this, during the month of April, green power out-produced coal power in the United States for the first time. A second exclamation point is the recent IPCC report showing that we have a decade to sharply reduce CO2 emissions or the planet’s ecology will undergo dramatic change.

One of the biggest surprises is that what’s propelling clean energy momentum is not a political victory but an economic one: now it’s cheaper to produce electricity with solar and wind than with new coal plants.

Presenting at the conference will be the new director of Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, Liesl Clark—what does it mean for renewables to have a career-long clean energy advocate at the helm?

Also presenting will be the CEO of Consumers Energy, Patti Poppe and President of DTE Electric Trevor Lauer—what do their big coal-reduction plans mean for our growing solar and wind markets? Poppe will also present at a FREE community gathering at the State Theatre to share her journey from having an “I heart coal” bumper sticker to convincing her company to commit to zero-coal power by 2040.

A conference highlight is Mary Powell, CEO of Vermont’s Green Mountain Power, which FastCompany has named one of the Top 10 electric companies on the planet and named her as one of the most 100 creative people in business. Her utility is achieving clean energy goals and has a clean energy vision that was once considered impossible, but is now a leader. How can her thoughts influence Michigan’s energy future?

This year’s conference adds to that strong momentum by focusing on getting deals done, putting steel in the ground, and sending clean electrons through the wires. In addition to policy and utility leaders, equipment makers, land owners, and major electricity users will be in attendance, along with people working at the community level to build the grassroots networks and support that clean energy needs if it’s to move as far and as fast as we need it to move.

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