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PRESS RELEASE: EGLE, NextEnergy support local governments’ sustainability efforts

By Posted on June 14, 2022
News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 14, 2022
Jeff Johnston, EGLE Public Information Officer, JohnstonJ14@michigan.gov517-231-9304
Julie Staveland, Manager, Sustainability Section, StavelandJ@michigan.gov, 517-420-854

EGLE, NextEnergy support local governments’ sustainability efforts

  • $3.5M will support clean development, climate planning through MiNextCities pilot project in Dearborn, Flint, Marquette. 
  • Local governments welcome nine graduate students to support sustainability, clean energy projects as Catalyst Leadership Circle Fellows. 
  • Community Energy Management Program awards $90,704 to four communities to reduce energy use. 

Dearborn, Flint, and Marquette have been chosen for the first phase of a three-year MiNextCities pilot project to address climate change, promote resiliency, improve infrastructure, and accelerate the use of clean energy, smart city technology, and efficient mobility solutions. 

A $3.5 million grant from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) will help facilitate the MiNextCities effort by NextEnergy, a Detroit-based leader in deploying smart city technologies, and Public Sector Consultants, a Lansing-based public policy consulting firm. The three pilot cities were chosen for their diversity in size, geography, capacity, utility services, and population demographics, and in line with the goals of the Office of Climate and Energy’s Catalyst Communities initiative, the MI Healthy Climate Plan, and the Office of Environmental Justice Public Advocate’s environmental justice focus. 

“MiNextCities will help develop a framework that communities across Michigan can use to implement sustainable measures to address climate impacts,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. “Flint, Dearborn, and Marquette have been chosen for the first phase of a three-year pilot program and I look forward to seeing how they use this grant to improve infrastructure, boost energy efficiency, and promote climate resiliency. Taken together, their actions will help us continue to pursue the roadmap to 2030 outlined in the MI Healthy Climate Plan and create good-paying jobs and economic prosperity for families, communities, and small businesses while addressing climate change head-on.” 

NextEnergy will guide the three cities in developing strategies to:  

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • Improve mobility and quality of life. 
  • Increase attraction and retention of workers and businesses. 
  • Enhance safety. 
  • Boost private sector and community investment. 

In addition, the pilot program will develop a Community Smart City Readiness and Deployment Guide to help other communities tailor sustainability efforts to their own needs and challenges. 

Public Sector Consultants will facilitate stakeholder engagement and program assessment. MiNextCities also will rely on input and perspectives from an advisory group of state agencies, nonprofits, community groups, and local project teams. Following consultations with residents and local leaders, MiNextCities will identify solutions and business models for each city, then work with the local community to deploy smart city initiatives. 

“This is a multi-tiered approach that meets Michigan communities where they are and ensures they have the resources and know-how for a just transition to Michigan’s sustainable, clean-energy future,” said EGLE Director Liesl Clark. 

“MiNextCities will make Michigan a leader in the deployment of smart city solutions,” said NextEnergy President and CEO Jim Saber. “Michigan will be one of the first states to fully capture the benefits of next-generation smart energy and mobility solutions.” 

“We are ecstatic to have been selected to participate in the MiNextCities program,” said Marquette City Manager Karen Kovacs. “The timing is truly impeccable, as the city recently committed to developing a Climate Action Plan, which is in line with many of the initiatives outlined in the MiNextCities program. We look forward to working with consultants such as NextEnergy and Public Sector Consultants as we enter deeper into the ever-changing world of smart cities.” 

“The City of Flint is excited to have been selected as one of three Michigan cities to participate in MiNextCities,” said Flint Mayor Sheldon A. Neeley. “We intend to use this opportunity as a step toward strengthening operational efficiency and improving the quality of life for our residents through the implementation of smart solutions. This is another positive step forward for the City of Flint and for our community.” 

“The MiNextCities program allows us to tap into our roots as a birthplace of innovation to fully realize the potential of next-generation smart city solutions,” said Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud. “Dearborn couldn’t be more thrilled to have been selected, and more excited to work with partner cities to model a path forward.” 

Catalyst Leadership Circle Fellowship 

EGLE’s Catalyst Communities program, in partnership with the University of Michigan Graham Sustainability Institute, has placed nine emerging sustainability leaders with local governments as Catalyst Leadership Circle (CLC) Fellows through July 29, 2022. 

The CLC Fellowship connects passionate students with local governments taking the lead on sustainability initiatives statewide. The fellowship will help communities reach climate and energy goals while developing a pipeline of passionate, capable students ready to enter the workforce in sustainability careers after gaining hands-on knowledge. Fellows will support their host communities with advanced sustainability and clean energy projects. 

Fellows are working in Meridian Township, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, East Lansing, Traverse City, Holland, Ferndale, and Detroit and will coordinate with the Michigan Municipal League. 

Community Energy Management Program 

In related sustainability news, EGLE is announcing four awards through its Community Energy Management Program (CEMP) totaling $90,704 to Scio Township ($25,000), Hannahville Indian Community ($18,004), Child and Family Services of Northwestern Michigan ($25,000), and Bay Mills Indian Community ($22,700). CEMP offers financial incentives to local governments, tribal governments, and other public serving entities for energy-related implementation projects recommended from energy audits to renewable energy installations. Earlier this spring, the program awarded grants to the City of Rockford ($15,000), Beaverton Manor Limited Dividend Housing ($25,000), City of Rochester Hills ($25,000), and City of Norway ($25,000).

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