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Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards Presented to Honorees for Reducing Energy Waste

Kirk Heinze took Greening of the Great Lakes to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s Energy Excellence Awards ceremony at Michigan State University’s Wharton Center on August 11.

The Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards honor Michigan organizations and individuals for their commitment to responsible energy production and consumption.

Through energy conservation and efficiency, Michigan has emerged as a leader in innovative, effective practices. As Governor Snyder mentioned in his special message on energy in 2012:

“Energy efficiency doesn’t mean doing less; it means doing as much or more, but using less energy to get it done. Energy efficiency is the best example of a no-regrets policy Michigan can have.”

These awards celebrate outstanding achievements in energy excellence, and seek to recognize people and organizations that have taken firm, meaningful actions to stop energy waste.

In the program’s opening segment, Kirk talks with Michigan Saves executive director Mary Templeton, who chaired the award program’s steering committee.

Hear the Templeton Heinze conversation above.

Dennis Schultz of Terra Caloric in Alpena is the Innovator of the Year. 

Schultz saw a problem: the upfront costs of conventional geothermal systems were preventing those who needed them most—rural homeowners without access to natural gas lines—from purchasing them. Fortunately, Dennis also had a solution: these same homeowners had access to water from household wells, so he designed a pump that could extract enough energy from two gallons of water to offset most homes’ fossil fuel consumption.

In 2015, Terra Caloric—a Michigan Saves authorized contractor—installed Dennis’ Well-Connect geothermal heat pumps in 26 Michigan homes, reducing average annualized propane use by 23,400 gallons. The pump can be installed in one day at a quarter of the cost of traditional systems.

Hear Heinze’s conversation with Dennis and Tim Schultz here.


The Odawa Casino Resort in Little Traverse Bay in Petoskey was honored for the Best Private Commercial Project.

The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians own and operate the Odawa Casino Resort. In 2015, they saved 1.3 million kWh of electricity and more than 26,000 MMBTU of natural gas by making lighting, HVAC, and computer system improvements.

The upgrades included everything from replacing outdated lighting on the casino’s gaming floor and exterior with LEDs to installing HVAC frequency drives, pressure differential transducers, and energy-efficient virtual servers. These enhancements helped the tribe fulfill one of its most important responsibilities—protecting Mother Earth.

Hear Heinze’s conversation with Dave Heinz and Ron Gatlin here.


Habitat for Humanity of Kent County in Grand Rapids was honored of the Best Communication or Education program.

Habitat for Humanity of Kent County (HHKC) believes that collaboration is key to educating people about the importance of energy efficiency. As a result, the organization is partnering with Grand Rapids Public Schools to teach high school students how to build LEED-certified homes and with Grand Rapids Community College to run LEED-certified home construction, green remodeling, and sustainable residential design programs.

In 2015, HHKC also reached more than 33,000 other audience members, volunteers, and homeowners with energy reduction messages. Compared to previously built homes, today’s HHKC houses save about $133 per year on gas and $98 per year on electricity.

Hear Heinze’s conversation with Brandyn Deckinga and Corri Sandwick here.


Cargill Inc.'s Cargill Salt unit in St. Clair was honored for the Best Industrial Manufacturing Project

In 2015, with help from SEMCO Energy Company, Cargill Inc.—a producer of salt for the food service industry—replaced its duel-fired coal-natural gas saturated heat steam boiler and its natural gas package boiler with a single, new 284.4 MMBTU boiler rated at 175,000 pounds per hour.

This change resulted in energy savings of nearly 1.2 million therms, enough to power more than 14,000 homes each year. Interestingly, the new heat and power system also enabled the company to use the steam from its back pressure steam turbine to produce most of the energy needed to meet the facility’s electric needs.

Hear Heinze’s conversation with Anthony Hodny and Luis Whitworth here.


Clarkston-based Oscar W. Larson Company was honored as the Contractor of the Year. 

Founded in 1946, Oscar W. Larson Company, which initially served just the petroleum industry, now also serves the automotive, airline, marine restaurant, convenience store, and service industries. In 2015, the company helped 83 small-business customers in Southeast Michigan submit applications to the DTE Energy Efficiency Program for Business.

Twelve of those 83 customers also received a 20 percent Multi-Measure Bonus, because the firm provided them with energy-efficient lighting products and food service equipment. Altogether, the company has helped DTE Energy customers save over 2 million kWh of electricity and reap more than $284,000 worth of incentives.

Hear Heinze’s conversation with James Lintol and Roger Wiseley here.


Greening of the Great Lakes airs inside MSU Today Sunday afternoons at 4:00 on AM 870.

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