The MAREC Minute: Winter 2011
Winter 2011 Issue, Vol. 3, No. 1 Past Newsletters
|C O N T E N T S|
Go to the ChargePoint America website and you’ll see the recent milestone MAREC set in working to help build the infrastructure for electric vehicle transportation, with its promise of new industries and environmental benefits.
Type in “Muskegon, MI” in the Address box and soon you’ll see a map with a green pin marking the location of the first electric vehicle charging station in Muskegon County. It is part of the first wave of stations now being installed through a regional effort led by the West Michigan Strategic Alliance and West Michigan Energy.
“The Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf make electric vehicles a reality on our streets and roads, and the development of a national network of charging stations becomes a critical need,” notes Arn Boezaart, director of MAREC.
“Bringing charging station technology to the Lakeshore region and West Michigan is an important step in signaling that our region is ready to embrace the new transportation options,” he added.
“This project underscores the significance of the battery manufacturing plants presently under construction and development in our lakeshore communities. The installation of electric vehicle charging stations in West Michigan signals that electric vehicles are seen as a viable transportation option in our region.”
“Just as a network of gasoline fueling stations emerged when the Model-T was released, we’ll see a very similar development of charging station technology emerge for the new age of electric vehicles” said Boezaart.
Between now and October, a network of 50-70 charging stations will be installed throughout the Kent, Muskegon, and Ottawa County region.
How does it work?
Drivers of electric vehicles will have multiple ways, including iPhone applications and use of the ChargePoint website, to locate charging stations as they travel. Interactive technology will also indicate which charging stations are available or in use. The charging station is activated when account holders scan a Charge Point account card or major credit card with “pay pass” embedded technology on the face of the charging station.
The charging station charges vehicles at either 110 or 220 voltage levels and can provide a full charge in four to eight hours. The MAREC charging station will be available at no cost to users for an initial period of time to encourage use of the new technology. At current electrical rates, the cost of an hour of charging at 220V is less than .60 cents. MAREC will evaluate the need to charge a fee for use of the charging station over time as usage and cost of the service is determined.
The charging stations – the equivalent of gas stations for traditional automobiles – are being made available to nine selected regions across the United States through ChargePoint America, a public/private partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy and Coulomb Technologies, a manufacturer of charging stations, and its partners. For a limited time, the program provides the charging stations at no cost, with the host organization covering the cost of installation.
Through the efforts of West Michigan Energy, the ChargePoint America program has recognized the value of using West Michigan as a regional site for introducing this new electric vehicle technology.
MAREC has been named as a Michigan Energy Demonstration Center by the state's energy department.
Energy Demonstration Centers are chosen based on their ability to promote energy efficiency, renewable energy, green building, and sustainable living solutions for Michigan residents and to help grow businesses in the alternative and renewable energy sectors. Other Energy Demonstration Centers in Michigan are located in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Dimondale, East Lansing, Grand Rapids, Marquette, Oxford, and Traverse City.
The centers are recognized because the technologies and practices they illustrate help homeowners and business owners reduce energy use, save money, and protect the environment. As an Energy Demonstration Center, MAREC has the opportunity to expand the programming it now offers.
"This is a welcomed recognition of what we do,” said Arn Boezaart, director of MAREC. "Our wind, solar, and micro-turbine technologies demonstrate how these energy alternatives work. They also highlight opportunities for entrepreneurship and economic development in the region."
Among its most recent demonstration activities, MAREC recently installed an integrated data logging system, built by students of the GVSU Padnos College of Engineering and Computing, that allows MAREC's real-time and historic energy generation data to be viewed online. The system tracks current energy usage and weather conditions while also archiving the data for researchers, students, and the public to access and analyze. View the system here.
With the assistance of a $100,000 grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), MAREC will increase its capacity to recruit and assist entrepreneurs, business start-ups, and early-stage businesses with an emphasis on energy-related technologies, products, and services. A new business consultant, Doug Huesdash, has joined the MAREC team, as long-time business consultant Eric Seifert transitions to new responsibilities, in a new position with MISBTDC (see below).
As part of the state’s 21st Century Jobs Fund program, the MEDC grant will fund a part-time incubator manager and allow for support services including legal and technical consultation. The grant also provides limited seed capital for MAREC clients, and will enable MAREC to develop additional incubator work stations and spaces.
Arn Boezaart, director of MAREC, said the grant will strengthen the connection between the business community, MAREC and the Muskegon Lakeshore SmartZone. “This grant allows us to increase business incubation opportunities for our Lakeshore region. One of the best ways we can help develop Michigan as a leader in technology and alternative energy fields is to support and coach business start-ups and new ventures, and to emphasize energy innovation. Expanding employment opportunities and supporting economic growth through MAREC’s incubator resources is one of our top priorities.”
MAREC is currently home to five businesses: Smart Vision Lights, Logical Lighting Systems, Energy Partners, and McKenzie Bay International, along with a field office for Scandia Wind. For more information, click to email Arn Boezaart.
MAREC’s new incubator manager position will be filled by Doug Huesdash, CPA, who joined the program in January. “I’m more than excited to join the MAREC team and to start working with Lakeshore area businesses,” said Huesdash (see profile below).
“I’ve been an entrepreneur for 18 years, and worked in public accounting focusing on privately held businesses before that,” Huesdash said. “From personal experience, I know that growth and success are definitely achievable for start-ups and young businesses despite economic conditions. There are opportunities yet to be tapped, and I’m eager to help guide entrepreneurs in whatever ways they need.”
“Doug has almost a ‘perfect-storm’ combination of the skills and experience needed for this role,” said Eric Seifert. Since last March, Seifert has served as a full-time consultant with the Region 7 MI-SBTDC office, serving MAREC two days a week with consultation and business development support to incubator tenants, Muskegon area small businesses, new venture companies, and area entrepreneurs.
Seifert will continue to serve Muskegon and lakeshore area businesses as the finance and strategy specialist for Region 7, a position created under the federal Small Business Jobs Act of 2010.
Seifert, a long-time area entrepreneur, banking executive, commercial lender and SBA loan specialist, will now use his expertise to help companies by:
- Preparing loan packages for submission to banks and other funding sources
- Comparing their financials to industry benchmarks to identify areas of improvement
- Using their financials as a tool to manage their business
- Developing “what-if” scenarios for financial impact on the business for new initiatives.
“As consultants, we know that the bottom line for our work is jobs and capital formation. Doug and I see that goal as very compatible with the development of the clean and renewable energy sector and new technologies that will help rejuvenate our Michigan economy,” added Seifert. “When we assess the outlook for local entrepreneurs, we see equal reason for optimism and for renewed effort. We’re ready to help; give us a call.”
Finance and Strategy Specialist
616-331-6900 or 231-722-4371
Thanks to new programs at MISBTDC, MAREC is now able to offer more help – and more kinds of help --not just to businesses in the early incubation and first stages of business growth but also to second-stage businesses that are ready for their next stage of growth, having achieved more than $1 million in annual revenue.
MISBTDC formed a new team last year, the Growth Group (G2), to support second-stage companies of all kinds in specialized areas where they most need help. G2 complements the pre-existing Manufacturing Assistance Team (MAT) consultants, who focus their expertise particularly on Michigan manufacturers, from second-stage to small and medium-sized businesses. G2 consultants typically help second-stage companies in strategic needs assessment, market research, process improvement, and strategic actioning (a form of three-year planning).
With assistance from the federal Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, MISBTDC has supplemented these two teams by adding nine regional Finance and Strategy Specialists (FSS), including Eric Seifert at MAREC (see above story).
Members of the FSS team have extensive experience in accounting and banking to help prepare second-stage companies to conduct sound financial analysis and assemble effective loan packages for companies to submit for bank financing. A recent profile of Seifert shares more information about the work of the finance and strategy specialists, and an article in Crain’s Detroit Business shows how the whole process fits together to help actual businesses.
“MISBTDC works to have a range of solutions for the range of businesses that are out there trying to get started and grow,” said Seifert. “We think we can help; please get in touch.” Email Eric Seifert.
With 25 years of experience as a service provider, a manufacturer, and an entrepreneur, Doug Huesdash, CPA, is well-suited to his new role serving MAREC clients as business development consultant with the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center (MISBTDC).
“I come at this position as a problem solver,” said Huesdash. “In both of the office furniture manufacturing businesses I founded, the challenges were not in making the identical widget over and over again. Instead, supporting customization was critical for us to meet changing needs. The foundation of success for any organization comes though hearing and comprehending the need, and then providing a solution.”
Professionally, Doug Huesdash has always worked to maintain a mix of practical business experience and strategic analysis. He paid for his college degree in accounting from Eastern Michigan University by working in design and engineering roles at two companies--one that manufactured machining centers and transfer lines for large equipment manufacturers like Caterpillar, as well as another company that manufactured structural building components.
Huesdash began his accounting career working with Touche Ross & Co. in Detroit and Grand Rapids and later joined a Grand Rapids accounting firm. Through his extensive work with privately held businesses, he met the decision-makers at those companies and explored a variety of facets of their businesses. In 1991, he started his own company co-founded In 1991, he co-founded a manufacturing business in the garage of his Allendale, Mich. home. “I couldn’t be a ‘real’ entrepreneur if I didn’t get started in a garage,” he jokes.
The company, JDTI, became a supplier to the office furniture industry making tack boards. Through two acquisitions he expanded into seating and systems furniture manufacturing. The experience involved him in the full spectrum of what it takes to run and grow a business: administrative functions, expansion projects, sales and customer relations, vendor relations, and product development. The company grew to over $4 million in annual sales.
In 2001, Huesdash founded a second company, Amneon Furniture, and acquired a systems furniture product from a customer that had gone out of business. In 2002 sales were $1.5 million. At the company's peak a few years later, annual sales exceeded $4 million. Huesdash managed as many as 50 employees at one time through both his companies. He also holds three patents.
After selling the companies in 2008, he formed Right Direction and Solutions LLC, a business advisory services firm with expertise and practice in business development, strategic planning, sales, consulting, new product development, and other areas. He has consulted with a number of corporate and non-profit clients in a variety of management areas.
Huesdash apparently does not rest. “Because I believe learning never ends, I’m also working on my MBA at Grand Valley’s Seidman College of Business. It’s vital for me to stay aware of what the future business world may look like, and I think the program will be a terrific two-way street,” he says.
In the community, Huesdash serves as treasurer and board member of The Other Way Ministries, an urban outreach ministry in Grand Rapids. He has also been a board member and fund raiser for Allendale Little League.
For more information, email Doug Huesdash or call 616-331-6900 or 231-722-4371.
Logical Lighting Systems, LLC became a MAREC incubator client in September, 2009. Through the use of high efficiency, environmentally friendly lighting options and sophisticated electronic control and monitoring systems, Logical Lighting Systems plans to move its LED technology beyond residential use into workplaces and public spaces including malls, hospitals, office buildings, and outdoor municipal lighting.
Company CEO Jason Jespersen said that while public attention has focused on residential conversion from incandescent and fluorescent lighting to more efficient sources, Logical Lighting Systems will address the enormous potential for energy and cost savings in the country’s work places and public spaces by using energy controls systems and monitoring equipment.
“With millions of lights burning nearly 24/7 in stores, offices and parking lots, it’s no surprise that commercial buildings account for more than half of total energy consumption for lighting in the U.S. versus about a quarter for residential,” Jespersen said. “This gives us with an enormous opportunity to leverage smart technologies, like LED lighting, to put a real dent in energy inefficiencies and in turn reduce a client’s carbon footprint and contribution to toxic emissions.”
A majority of Logical Lighting’s product is made in the U.S. and some of its LED products are designed and manufactured in Michigan. “The conversion to higher efficiency lighting and creating and maintaining jobs in the area is a win-win scenario for all of us,” said Jespersen.
Customizing and installing control systems can yield rewarding results. For example, when Logical Lighting installs innovative control systems like eMonitor™ from Powerhouse Dynamics, residences and businesses can monitor and log electrical energy down to the individual appliance level. By looking at the ongoing analysis of energy consumption, power-hungry lights, appliances and equipment can be replaced or serviced more effectively. “Savings of 25 percent can be realized with little effort. Monitoring solar and wind power is also part of this particular system which includes remote access and email or text alerts that can be set for ongoing safety and optimization of the building’s energy usage,” said Jespersen.
The eMonitor system also allows users to remotely turn off the TV or lights that were left on right from a smart phone or an Internet-connected computer. It provides users with a simple one-page graph showing where power is used, generated, and wasted.
Renewable energy and energy efficiency will take a big step forward in several counties this year thanks to a $6.8 million federal grant to two nonprofits, and MAREC will assist the nonprofits in implementing the grant.
The Muskegon-Oceana Community Action Partnership (MOCAP) and the Oakland Livingston Human Services Agency (OLHSA) are the recipients of the combined Sustainable Energy Resources for Consumers (SERC) grant, funded by the US Department of Energy (DOE). SERC funding is for the design, fabrication and installation of site-specific sustainable and renewable energy technologies for income-qualified single or multi-family residential buildings.
“This is a big deal for the agencies and the communities. It will put more income-qualified households on a more sustainable basis both economically and environmentally, and we at MAREC are delighted to help,” said Kim Walton, MAREC program coordinator and consultant on the grant. "And it's a great opportunity for contractors." (See below)
The project will aid local communities in several ways—by first providing home weatherization services, then providing ongoing cost savings to residents by installing a range of energy saving or energy producing technologies. The technologies will include hybrid water heaters, solar thermal hot air and hot water systems, photovoltaic systems, and wind generators where conditions warrant.
Not only will these upgrades save money, they can also provide a more comfortable heating source and environmental benefits. This project will also bring substantial opportunities and work for local renewable energy contractors.
MAREC is providing technical assistance and training to MOCAP and OLHSA to assure the proper choice and placement of the systems. These projects were awarded in August, 2010 through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, known as the federal stimulus package. Grant funds should become available later this spring.
“All this technology is very effective and at the same time, very site-specific. The key to a good return on investment is a system that is properly designed for the location and the needs of the family,” said Walton. Projects will be installed throughout 2011.
“Our work with MOCAP and OLHSA is a win-win for everybody. It allows MAREC to leverage our technology expertise while these agencies use their skills and well-developed community relationships to enhance the energy sustainability of homes and apartment buildings,” said Arn Boezaart, MAREC director.
Sustainable energy projects will be available in the coming months for suitable contractors under the federal Sustainable Energy Resources for Consumers grant administered by MOCAP and OLHSA (see above article). The $6.8 million Sustainable Energy Resources for Consumers (SERC) grant supports the design, fabrication, and installation of site-specific sustainable and renewable energy technologies for income-qualified residential buildings. A Request for Qualification (RFQ) will be issued soon by MOCAP and OLHSA.
The DOE SERC grants were created to allow local weatherization agencies, such as OLHSA and MOCAP, to install technologies that have promise for energy savings and benefits throughout the United States. These projects were awarded in August, 2010 through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The overall intent is to install and test the effectiveness of a variety of sustainable and renewable energy technologies installed onto single and multi-family structures including:
- Solar Hot Air Systems (OLHSA & MOCAP)
- Solar Hot Water Systems (closed loop, flat panel, propylene-glycol antifreeze) (OLHSA & MOCAP)
- Solar Electric (PV), grid tie (OLHSA & MOCAP)
- Wind Turbine (grid tie, tilt-up towers, 80 ft minimum tower height, maximum output 5kW) (MOCAP only)
Each installation will be site-specific, and may contain one or any combination of the above technologies.
There will be a Request for Qualification (RFQ) issued soon from both MOCAP and OLHSA. Any professional contractors with a sound understanding, working knowledge and experience in the installation of solar thermal, PV, and wind technologies are encouraged to contact both MOCAP and OLHSA.
Please contact the agencies directly for more information and to receive their respective RFQ’s. Installers are not required to be certified or skilled in ALL the technologies, and the Davis-Bacon Act prevailing wage must be utilized.
What are Michigan companies actually designing and making to equip the much-touted sustainable economy? Businesses and interested citizens will get the chance to find out in March, when MAREC hosts its first Made in MICHIGAN Renewable Energy Technology Show.
Open from Monday, March 21 thru Wednesday, March 23, the Expo will highlight renewable technology and sustainable products currently in production by a Michigan-based company. Targeted for installers, dealers, distributors, contractors and other businesses as well as the general public, Made in MICHIGAN seeks to bridge the gap between Michigan-based vendors and customers. It also seeks to raise awareness about current renewable technology products and Michigan’s growing role in building and supplying the “green” economy.
At noon on March 23, as part of the show and MAREC’s Lunch & Learn series, Mark H. Clevey from the State of Michigan Bureau of Energy Systems (BES), will discuss how the BES supports renewable energy technologies and products in Michigan. About 18 vendors, such as Flint-based solar thermal manufacturer Sunsiaray and Saginaw-based GlobalWatt, will be on display to highlight technologies and products produced by Michigan-based companies. Product training and product presentations will also be held.
For more about the show, contact Kim Walton, MAREC Program Coordinator, email@example.com, 616-331-6907.
Our free monthly public lecture series continues one Wednesday per month over the lunch hour at MAREC, from 12:00 to 1:00. Bring your lunch and enjoy a beverage and tasty dessert on us!
March 23: Bureau of Energy Systems: Programs and services that support Made in Michigan renewable energy technologies and products
Presented by Mark H. Clevey, Manager, Consumer Education & Renewable Energy Programs
Please RSVP by Monday, March 21.
In February, the promise and challenge of bio-fuels were explained by Greg Marczak, shown in photo. Marczak is dean of instruction and assessment at Muskegon Community College; he is also a research chemist and patent holder. Our January speaker, Bruce Lowstuter, P.E., president of Clean Energy Systems, board member and lead instructor for the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association (GLREA), did a great job filling guests in on the basics of solar energy and the technology used to harness it.
If you have special topics of interest you would like to suggest for future lunches, please contact Kim Walton.
MAREC is announcing the first annual Renewable Energy Technology Science Fair, known as “RE-Fair,” for area high school and community college students. Save the date for Saturday, May 7 at MAREC.
This fair will promote critical thinking and inventive skills through development of renewable energy (RE) or Sustainability projects. Students will also develop a related business plan, coupling good science and good business. The fair will provide students with a meaningful learning experience and access to potential employers. Further, it will provide high school juniors and seniors with exposure to a community college experience.
Projects will be divided in two basic categories, Renewable Energy and Sustainability, and will be judged in several sub-categories. Business leaders along with other community members in related fields will serve as judges. Judging will be based on the merits of the projects and multiple top awards may be issued in each category.
“Taking part in RE-Fair really offers many benefits,” said Kim Walton, MAREC program coordinator. “The incentive of a friendly competition has been shown to promote deeper learning as students see the value of science and technology in their lives. They’ll also learn through the challenge of integrating science and business, and making the case for their project.”
“Community college students in particular will gain greater understanding of technology and business and may become mentors to some of the high school students involved in the fair,” Walton added. “And overall it’s fun like Odyssey of the Mind; learning doesn’t always have to be serious and dry.”
In addition to the competition, local businesses will be encouraged to sponsor the fair and community colleges will be recruited to set up booths and promote their renewable energy and sustainability programs. More information on RE-Fair will be posted soon on this website and will be circulated through a flyer to our email newsletter subscribers.
Keep May 7 on your calendar! Contact Kim Walton or call 616-331-6905 with any questions.
The New Economy and Alternative Energy
Marcia Saunders, St. Joseph County EDC (left), and Diane Tracy, University of Michigan, took part in the roundtable, led by MAREC Director Arn Boezaart (center). Photo by Sam Zomer.
To promote dialogue with thought leaders who are helping drive Michigan forward and accelerating the transition to an innovation-based economy, Business Review West Michigan held a roundtable forum called "The New Economy" on February 17 at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. Among the industries it covered was alternative energy, and MAREC director Arn Boezaart hosted the "Diversifying New Opportunities in Alternative Energy" roundtable discussion.
Stay in touch with MAREC for the latest developments in alternative and renewable energy and technology, events, workshops, training for entrepreneurs and educators, and more.
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Page last modified March 14, 2011