SBAM, WMEAC Have Teamed Up

December 22, 2003
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GRAND RAPIDS — The state has funded a pilot energy project that will involve the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC) and the Michigan Environmental Council.

But what’s unusual is that the grant recipient that is to partner with the two entities is the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM). SBAM members and members of the two councils frequently are on opposite sides of environmental issues.

If all goes well, however, SBAM and the environmental council ultimately will jointly package the pilot’s successful elements into a statewide program that they believe can cut energy costs and promote alternative methods of electrical generation.

The purpose of the grant, awarded last month, is to organize members of the WMEAC into pools to purchase energy-efficient products, deregulated electricity and green power.

So says Mark H. Clevey, SBAM’s vice president for entrepreneurial development and the director of the Energy Star and green power programs.

“The aggregation model was previously developed under a special grant to SBAM,” he explained, “to launch a Michigan Interfaith Power and Light Coalition.

“Successful elements of the pilot project,” Clevey added, “are expected to be replicated with other Michigan Environment Council members in the future.”

He explained that the pilot will entail members of WMEAC receiving an Energy Star-related energy audit to identify energy-inefficient products that can be replaced with energy-efficient Energy Star-related projects.

He said the project’s pooling feature will permit bulk purchases of Energy Star products, thus reducing their upfront costs.

“As part of the project,” Clevey said, “SBAM will negotiate bulk discounts with Energy Star product vendors. It is expected that WMEAC members involved in the program will be able to reduce their energy costs by up to 25 percent with the new Energy Star products.”

He said the project also will identify candidates to participate in SBAM’s Electric Choice program.

He said the program will enable them to save an additional 10 percent to 15 percent by switching from Consumers Energy to Strategic Energy Limited.

Finally, Clevey said, WMEAC members’ combined savings will provide funds to buy green power from firms such as Bay Wind Power.

He said he sees several spin-off benefits from the cooperative pilot project.

“The combined elements of SBAM’s comprehensive approach to energy are expected to reduce operating costs for WMEAC members, stimulate Energy Star and green power business development and jobs in Southwest Michigan.”    

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