Future of Michigan: Green Technology? Let's Hope Not.

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Posted: Jul 13, 2009 3:30 PM
Michigan Governor, Democrat Jennifer Granholm, worked last week to encourage residents to improve their own energy efficiency, as well as to promote Michigan as a state "leading the way" in new green technology.  The state's unemployment rate currently ranks the highest in the nation at 14.1% following the collapses of many manufacturers supporting the auto industry.  Granholm, in her weekly radio address, announced the solution to the state's economic woes lies in a new "green industrial revolution."
From advanced batteries to electric vehicles to more recycled content in car interiors, the automobile will play a vital role in Michigan's green economy... Our auto companies are undergoing difficult and often painful restructuring, but their future is bright - and green.
Cute, but I'm not convinced--especially after reading her interview with the Associated Press on her efforts to set an example by making the state governor's mansion more "eco-friendly."  Granholm gave the AP a tour of the governor's residence, where a wind turbine and solar panels are being installed to increase the home's energy efficiency.  There's also a fancy new sprinkler system that is supposed to save water.  "The residence provides an example of ways consumers can save money by using Michigan products."

Saving money?  That's fantastic if you're the governor and all of these materials have been donated to you.  But let's look at this from a regular consumer's perspective.  The 30-foot-tall wind turbines (zoning violation?) are reported to save about $1,200/year on the home's annual $11,000 electric bill.  The turbine is priced at $9,000, but the governor is quick to point out that with federal and state tax breaks, it will only cost you $3,000.  What a deal!

And what about those solar panels?  Those carry a price tag of $20,000 and will save the taxpayers of Michigan a whopping $300 of electricity/year!  So, in about 67 years, we can all rejoice in knowing that these will finally be paid for.  Not to mention, what homeowner has $20,000 just lying around the house that they're willing to spend for a $300/year return on investment?  You would get more bang for your buck by just putting your money in a bank account.  And not that I really need to mention it at this point, but the sprinkling system for the governor's vegetable garden retails for $50,000 and promises to save the taxpayers $1,450/year.  Do the math.

Now, it's not that I'm anti-eco-friendliness.  But as a native of the Great Lakes state, I have to be concerned that Governor Granholm is proudly proclaiming this absurdity as  the "future" of our state.  If Michigan is to lead a "green revolution," get ready for that 14.1% unemployment rate to skyrocket.