The West Michigan Environmental Action Council has announced that it is presenting a series of four monthly forums this fall and winter that will examine the future of West Michigan’s energy infrastructure, its associated industries and the environmental, economic and social concerns related to the development of alternative and traditional energy sources.
The Exploring Our Energy Future Forums represent the most comprehensive examination to date of the underlying issues present in the various energy development narratives in West Michigan. It is designed to transcend the debate over whether or not offshore and onshore wind energy, reduction of regional energy demand, and investment in other emerging energy technologies such as solar, biomass, hydro and nuclear are politically correct or viable, to instead focus on discovering a balanced approach to meeting energy demand — what practices are necessary for a successful deployment of each strategy, and the negative impacts/sacrifices involved in each.
“It is our hope that through this program we will help West Michigan end the debate over whether it is necessary for our community to reinvent the way we power our lives and industries, and begin the much more meaningful dialogue of how we move forward,” said Ann Erhardt, WMEAC Energy Programs Manager. “This is an effort to arm our citizens, community and business leaders with the understanding of energy development issues necessary for that more meaningful dialogue…and the individual opportunities or concerns inherent in each.”
Erhardt said that WMEAC hopes the forums will help the region move forward with a balanced approach to meeting energy demand by focusing on the latest and most relevant facts and expertise within the field. The Exploring Our Energy Future Forums will be presented this fall and winter at four local college campuses in Grand Rapids and Muskegon. Each will include a panel of local, regional, and national experts from fields with a strong influence on each energy issue.
The first forum will examine what has recently been the most discussed alternative energy issue in West Michigan: offshore wind energy development. WMEAC and the Center for Sustainability at Aquinas College will present “The What, Where and How of Lake Michigan Wind Turbines: Balancing Sustainable Energy with Lakeside Living and Natural Resources” on Wednesday, November 17 at Aquinas College’s Donnelly Center at 7 p.m.
“The potential for offshore wind development in Lake Michigan represents one of the state’s greatest opportunities, both for the energy industry and affiliated sectors such as manufacturing and construction,” said Erhardt. “The right development will be a boon for our environment and economy, but any development in Lake Michigan waters has the potential to be a very explosive issue, and rightly so. A careful balance must be struck between the needs of sustainable energy and the Great Lake’s diverse environmental, economic and social interests.”
Check out the series at exploringourenergyfuture.org
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