Brady Documentary Explores Michigan's Green Energy Economy

At one time, what was good for the environment was often considered bad for business. But a new television documentary titled Michigan’s Green Energy Economy takes a closer look at how investment in solar, wind and biofuels is creating economic growth in the state.

Dwight Brady (CAPS, pictured) produced the program for an upcoming edition of the Emmy-award winning public television series Michigan at Risk. The half-hour documentary will air at 8 p.m. EST Wednesday, Nov. 15, on WNMU-TV and all other Michigan Public Broadcasting affiliates. It will be followed by a panel discussion hosted by Tim Skubick.

Several recent documentaries, including Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, have addressed the potential adverse consequences of the United States’ fossil-fuel economy. Brady said his work provides a different angle on economics and environmentalism.

“This program documents the viability of constructing a new economic engine that generates financial incentives for reducing environmental damage rather than exacerbating it,” said Brady. “In an ideal world, we would all find the willpower to change our consumption habits simply because it is morally the right thing to do. In the real world, however, we will likely not change unless it is economically the right thing to do.”

In creating Michigan’s Green Energy Economy, Brady and his production team of Grant Guston and NMU student Alex Hansen shot footage in 12 counties. They traveled from Upper Michigan to the extreme southwestern corner of the Lower Peninsula. Viewers will learn about a fabricating plant in Cassopolis that makes components for commercial wind turbines and see how United Solar Ovonic in Auburn Hills is meeting the global demand for solar panels. The documentary will also take viewers from the wind-swept fields of Huron County, where farmers look to make hay from giant wind turbines, to Upper Michigan, where a new company is looking to raise some green with bio-fuels.

Brady interviewed 20 people for the documentary, including entrepreneurs like Rich VanderVeen of Mackinaw Power and public officials such as Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell. 

“It was a great experience meeting and interviewing so many extraordinary people who not only understand our economic and environmental problems, but are also providing solutions,” said Brady. 

Michigan's Green Energy Economy is funded through a faculty research grant from NMU and a grant from the Michigan Association of Public Broadcasters. It was produced in partnership with WNMU-TV. Brady also was given a sabbatical leave of absence from NMU to work on the documentary.

After the Nov. 15 broadcast date, the program will be available for online viewing at


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Updated: November 13, 2006

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