Governor Granholm Announces Flint-Sweden Partnership to Explore Creation of Alternative Fuel from City Waste

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

City of Flint and alternative energy leader SBI will undertake a project to produce alternative energy from waste removed from the city’s wastewater treatment plant

LANSING– Lt. Governor John D. Cherry, Jr., representing Governor Jennifer M. Granholm, today announced that the city of Flint and alternative energy leader Swedish Biogas International (SBI) will undertake a project to produce alternative energy from waste removed from the city’s wastewater treatment plant.The plant will produce biogas – an alternative energy that can fuel vehicles and generate heat and electricity. Granholm called the announcement of the plant “a major building block in creating the state’s alternative energy industry” and said that it will lay the groundwork for creating jobs in the industry.    

“This historic partnership will create new jobs and attract business investment to Flint,” Cherry said.“Equally important is its enormous potential to test and perfect technology that will not only reduce dependence on fossil fuels by producing alternative fuel for heating and transportation but also improve the environmental profile of plants across the country.”

The creation of this plant in Michigan puts the state at the center of in-demand research and development of technology that will help reduce reliance on fossil fuels and help businesses and communities reach their “green energy” goals.

“This is one more way that Michigan can become the state that industry is coming to for its green energy solutions,” said Granholm.“The more we can build out this industry, the more jobs we can create.”

Participating in the announcement were Flint Mayor Donald Williamson, Consul General of Sweden Lennart Johansson and State Representative Lee Gonzales (D-Flint Twp.) as well as representatives of Swedish Biogas International, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), Kettering University, and the Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The project is a result of Governor Granholm’s investment mission to Sweden in August 2007 and has the active support of U.S. Ambassador to Sweden Michael Wood.Granholm traveled to Sweden last year to meet with government and company officials in an effort to develop alternative energy partnerships and encourage investment in Michigan.Sweden is a recognized global leader in renewable fuels with more than 65 percent of heating needs of all buildings derived from biomass waste.

“Our vision for Flint is to create a financial generator out of our waste water treatment plant,” said Mayor Williamson. “We can generate clean energy from waste and create new jobs for Flint.Once established, we could expand the project to produce more fuel to power more vehicles, creating additional investment and jobs and reduce operating expenses for city vehicles.”

“Sweden is a world leader in developing technologies that turn waste into energy, as electricity, and to fuel vehicles,” said Johansson. “Swedish Biogas International has 15 years experience in making waste an energy source in a city of similar size to Flint. SBI is looking to partner with local companies to show Michigan and Flint as ideal gateways for bringing these technologies to the U.S.”  

Kettering University President Stan Liberty said the university is pleased to be a key partner in this exciting collaboration. “This is an excellent demonstration of Kettering’s ongoing commitment to assist in bringing more economic development to the region,” Liberty said. “We view this as an enormous opportunity to build on our research expertise in the alternative energy field in a collaborative manner.”

“Green technology is good for business,” said Tim Herman, CEO of the Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce. “We save money and create a cleaner environment by producing an alternative fuel from waste water that can be used to heat our homes, provide electric power, and operate our vehicles. Best of all, the project has the potential to create badly needed jobs in our community.”

Representative Gonzales said, “With this proven, time-tested technology and with our new partners from Sweden, we are positioning Michigan as pioneers in a new economy.This is a great opportunity for new business investment and job growth in alternative energy for America."

The Flint-Sweden demonstration project lays the groundwork for eventual creation of a Michigan Center of Energy Excellence, an initiative outlined in the governor’s State of the State address earlier this year. Centers of Excellence will link a job-creating alternative energy company with a university where they will co-locate to conduct research and create new jobs.Center partners may include Kettering, Swedish Biogas, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

“This is one small step for the city of Flint and a giant leap for the Michigan bio-economy,” MEDC President and CEO James C. Epolito said. “This puts Michigan on the map as a leader among the states in alternative energy research and development, building on our legacy of automobile manufacturing to develop alternative fuels to power the vehicles of the future.”

“With skyrocketing oil and gas prices stretching family budgets to the max, it is critical that we develop clean energy alternatives to fossil fuel and lessen our dependence on foreign sources of energy,” said U.S. Senator Carl Levin of Michigan.“This agreement has the potential to bring environmentally-friendly energy alternatives to Flint and create good jobs, and I’m pleased to support it.”

U.S. Rep. Dale Kildee (D-Flint) said, “The city of Flint and Kettering University will be key players in the global partnership that is moving forward technology that can reduce our dependence on foreign oil and the release of greenhouse gases while creating green jobs in Michigan. I will continue to work to bring federal resources to Flint to help ensure that this project is a success and that Flint remains on the cutting-edge of new technologies.”

Kildee is working to secure federal support in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow also are reviewing possibilities to enhance federal collaboration.

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

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