What's in a name WindTronic has a 'honey' of a deal for you

September 8, 2009
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If that little WindTronic wind turbine works like its inventor and manufacturer say, it's going to make some big waves in the world of do-it-yourselfers when it goes on sale through Ace Hardware stores across the nation late this year.

One of the claims is that it begins spinning and generating electricity in wind as low as two miles per hour, where other generators aren't doing much until the wind reaches seven miles per hour. The WindTronic is also much smaller and lighter than other small wind turbines and costs about half as much, but still can generate about the same amount of electricity.

Is it for real? Perhaps the brand name going on it is a clue: Honeywell.

Honeywell is a Fortune 100 diversified technology and manufacturing corporation that traces its roots to 1885. It is a major contender in aerospace products and services; control technologies for buildings, homes and industry; automotive products; turbochargers; and specialty materials.

The WindTronic, invented in Muskegon by Imad Mahawili, former director of the GVSU Michigan Alternative and Renewable energy Center, is being manufactured by Reg Adams, who also founded EarthTronics, and will be marketed as the Honeywell Wind Turbine.

"We definitely vet our licensed partners very carefully and we have a very good relationship with WindTronics/EarthTronics," said Dan Hare, vice president of communications in the Honeywell Automation and Control Solutions division in Minneapolis.

So this means Honeywell engineers checked out the WindTronic, and it really works?

"Absolutely," said Hare. "We definitely go through an extensive due diligence process."

Cap-and-trade show-and-tell

Everybody's going to be talking about cap-and-trade soon — including those wacky folks we send to Congress — but what's anybody doing about it?

Perhaps a better question is: Who understands exactly its ins and outs?

There's a free seminar Thursday, "Coming to Terms with a Carbon Constrained Economy," at the Michigan Alternative & Renewable Energy Center on Muskegon Lake in downtown Muskegon. It runs from 8:30-11:30 a.m., and it's sponsored by GVSU, which owns MAREC, and the Michigan Small Business Technology Development Center.

The last major international agreement on environmental standards — The Kyoto Protocol — expires in 2012. Its successor is expected to be finalized this year at the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit in Denmark.

If you absolutely do not believe that air pollution from use of carbon-based fuels — coal and petroleum, especially — has any impact on the earth's climate, then cap-and-trade is meaningless.

If, however, you do believe there should be limits set on how much carbon dioxide can be released into the atmosphere, then the question is: How should the government enforce those limits? Throw the CEO in jail? Sue the company in federal court? Shut it down?

 An alternative to such hardball enforcement is cap-and-trade — and if Congress ultimately decides that U.S. companies and organizations have to limit carbon emissions, cap-and-trade will probably be something many businesses will have to deal with. It is at issue in almost every state (except California) because of its tremendous cost burden to businesses, most especially those in Michigan.

U.S. Rep. Vern Ehlers, R-Grand Rapids, has vehemently opposed the legislation.

Call MAREC at (616) 331-6900 or (616) 331-6905 to reserve a seat at the seminar.

Still singing at 50

The September issue of More Magazine features a Q&A profile with Pamella Roland fashion designer Pamella DeVos. In the article, “This is What 50 Looks Like,” Roland talks about “growing up in Michigan, dreaming of designing clothes. But that wasn’t realistic, so I studied business in college, got married and had three children. Then, at 40, I began to design. People thought I was crazy.”

She also mentions her secret passion: “I love to sing. Last year, my friends got sick of me singing into spoons, so they bought me a karaoke machine. My husband (Dan DeVos) topped them by hiring Harry Connick Jr. to perform at my 50th birthday party, I sang backup and had the time of my life.”

Legal help makes mark

Mel Trotter Ministries’ Legal Education Night seeks to provide residents of the ministry and members of the community an opportunity to work through and hear about legal issues that may be relevant to them. More than 90 people attended the event in May, and Mel Trotter officials anticipate the same for the Sept. 10 date. Issues discussed include immigration law, family law policies and procedures, and criminal law issues. Lawyers from the community offer their services at the event, speaking on topics of interest and sharing expertise.

Officials say the success of this event can be attributed to the legal community within Grand Rapids — all those who provide their services, pro bono, to the Education Night. It can also be attributed to Mel Trotter’s Christian Legal Aid Clinic. Every Wednesday, from 2-4 p.m. and 5-7 p.m., more than eight attorneys from firms within the area work with residents at the ministry, touching on tenant/landlord relationships, divorce issues, immigration concerns and the like. Additionally, both Cooley Law School and Davenport University have worked closely with Mel Trotter’s clinic in this regard.

“The goal of the Legal Education Night, as well as the Christian Legal Aid Clinic, is to help support residents and to allow them to start anew, to turn over a new leaf,” said Mel Trotter spokeswoman Gwen Vryhof.

All’s fair in love and …

Work on the long-awaited Allegan County casino will get under way this month, but those who at one point opposed the development will likely be outside looking in.

The announcement became official last week but tribal representatives worked hard to give an advance heads-up to news organizations the council believed were the most accurate in reporting on the decade-old struggle.

This didn’t go unnoticed by reporters at one local daily who razzed tribal spokesman James Nye for not including them in the advance announcements and then published the whining, also acknowledging the publication’s belated endorsement of the project “when it became clear legal challenges would be fruitless and state and local government could miss out on the opportunity to share casino revenues.”

"We did work with some newspapers prior to today to inform them about the groundbreaking date and some changes we were going to make to the project," Nye told that newspaper. "The reason that we did that is because our local supporters have come to the tribe and told us who they go to for news when it comes to our proposal."

The Business Journal was included on that list, reaffirming its go-to status by local business news followers seeking balanced reporting of controversial issues, and opinions expressed solely on the Comment page.


Road work won’t impede

With memorial services for former Federal Reserve Chairman L. William Seidman planned for 3 p.m. Friday on Grand Valley State University’s Allendale campus, some red flags went up last week when the Michigan Department of Transportation announced an extensive road project on M-45.

Upon a Business Journal inquiry, John Richard, MDOT communications representative, quickly responded (yes, he does work for the government) that the scheduled work should not impact traffic coming and going from the memorial service activities.

“The work area on Lake Michigan Drive will stop on the west side of 68th Avenue, so the traffic using westbound M-45, and the traffic using southbound 68th Avenue (if they use I-96 and exit north of Allendale in Coopersville) should not be affected,” Richard said in an e-mail response. “I will make sure our crews are aware of the service so they can take appropriate action if necessary. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.”

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