NextEnergy shapes Michigan's alt energy future over last decade

NextEnergy is celebrating its tenth anniversary this month and is pointing toward a decade's worth of influence on Michigan's alternative energy and clean-tech sectors as proof of its success.

"It played an important role in the renewable portfolio standard in Michigan," says Chris Rizik, a board member and former chairman of NextEnergy. "It helped shape the development of the wind industry in Michigan."

NextEnergy is an incubator of sorts for renewable energy technology and businesses. More than $50 million in technology development grants have passed through its halls since its founding. NextEnergy supports eight labs and doesn't take a financial stake in the technology or businesses that utilize its services. It does this so it can act as an honest broker about which technologies have the best chances of moving forward.

Among the work it has conducted over its lifespan include wind energy, alternative fuels and the electrification of the automobile. "It makes sense for NextEnergy to develop strategies that play to our geography," Rizik says.

NextEnergy's has consistently grown over its decade and Rizik expects that to continue as it takes on more projects in Detroit's New Center neighborhood (adjacent to TechTown), expands its network of supporters and clients, and add to its staff.

"It has been one of the quiet successes in this state," Rizik says. "The impact it has had on Michigan is tremendous."

Source: Chris Rizik, a board member and former chairman of NextEnergy
Writer: Jon Zemke

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