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The green jobs revolution

The green jobs revolution(Via The Muskegon Chronicle)Wind and waste.That's what will lead the way for Muskegon into the green jobs industry.

But it's going to take a conscious effort to join the revolution.Area governments are going to have to re-examine regulations put in place

to protect property owners, but not necessarily to encourage the

alternative energy business. They're going to have to offer tax breaks and

other accommodations to attract these emerging businesses and sometimes

settle for the practical instead of the fantastic. And they're going to

have to make sure that customer service is top-notch both here and at the

state level if we're going to bring these projects home.It's a delicate balance.The state is in our corner, recently sweetening the pot to entice the first

WindTronics manufacturing plant to locate in Muskegon with a 10-year, $3.7

million tax break and a $500,000 up-front loan if it selects an existing

building in Muskegon's Port City Industrial Park. The plant could bring 219

jobsto the area over five years with an additional 243 indirect jobs

expected to be created.WindTronics is a division of EarthTronics, a Muskegon-based alternative

energy distribution company that is licensed to commercialize a wind

turbine technology developed by former GVSU Michigan Alternative and

Renewable Energy Center director, Imad Mahawili, at the Muskegon facility.All of this is exciting news and fits right in with the community's goal of

making this area a state leader in alternative energy development.

Community leaders have said Muskegon could be at the forefront of wind

energy exploration and production because of its proximity to Lake Michigan

and the number of skilled workers here in metal technology.While WindTronics' 6-foot turbine designed for residential use, which can

be scaled up for commercial use or down for personal use, is sexy new

technology, Muskegon also needs to concentrate on other, less exciting

green technologies that also have a foothold in our community and the

regulatory issues surrounding them.Many jobs will come from the current leader in renewable energy production,

waste-to-fuel projects like the one at den Dulk Dairy Farm near Ravenna.

It's a little grittier than wind turbines, but successful nonetheless.Regulatory issues have frustrated efforts to develop alternative energy

sources such as the den Dulk project. State regulations that would provide

a fair price for excess electricity produced through alternative energy

projects to be sold to the public grid would help. It's not an easy

subject, but area officials need to get familiar with it.The area also needs to make some decisions about regulation of wind

turbines. We have to decide what is acceptable to allow the industry to

grow, while still protecting neighboring property owners.White River Township finds itself in the hot seat in that arena. BP

Alternative Energy's studies in that township could lead to construction of

a 100-megawatt wind farm in northern Muskegon County and southern Oceana

County.But the township's ordinance could prevent development of the wind farm,

according to BP officials, who have asked planning commission members to

amend the ordinance. The township's current ordinance restricts wind

turbines to a maximum height of 400 feet, limits them to agricultural zones

and requires them to be set back at least 1,600 feet from property lines,

streets and other turbines.Muskegon can grab the brass ring of green industry, but it will take a

carefully thought out policy.For the very latest green jobs from around the world please click here