Granholm moderates DNC energy town hall meeting

DENVER, COLORADO - High gas prices, dependence on foreign oil and concern over the nation's energy future were on the minds of people as Governor Jennifer Granholm moderated a town hall meeting at the Democratic National Convention.

The governor shared the podium with the head of an alternative energy company, a worker who makes wind turbines and two other energy experts during 20 minutes on the stage. The questions were videotaped in advance.

The highly scripted event was largely a promotion for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's energy policies, which Granholm said would help turn around Michigan's struggling economy. The Democratic governor is trying to make the state into an alternative energy leader to make up for losses in manufacturing.

"Know that there's jobs out there," she told the crowd.

Granholm and a host of speakers were the warm up acts for former presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was to speak a day before delegates began casting their votes to nominate Obama.

Granholm told Michigan delegates that the state has the wood, wind, water, waste and work force to build wind turbines and to harness its resources to produce cellulosic ethanol and other alternative fuels.

The governor has been unable to get the Republican-controlled Senate to pass a law requiring that a certain percentage of Michigan's power come from renewable sources. The pending energy package also includes a measure limiting competition for electric customers to help utilities build new coal-fired power plants.

Lawmakers and the administration have been working behind the scenes on a compromise, but so far have not come up with a new package for lawmakers to vote on.

Granholm may be getting part of her wish for more alternative energy even without the bills. White Pines Wind Farm LLC said it wants to place 20 to 28 large wind turbines near the Lake Michigan shoreline in the Huron-Manistee National Forest.

Each turbine would be 420 feet high from ground to blade tips and would generate 2.5 megawatts of energy. If all 28 are constructed, the project would produce 70 megawatts — enough to supply 20,000 homes. The electricity would go into the power grid for use in the Manistee area.

The company is a subsidiary of London-based oil company BP PLC. It has applied for a special use permit with the U.S. Forest Service, which is expected to take a year to consider the proposal and listen to public comment.

The appearance was Granholm's only time on the podium during the four-day convention, but it gave her more exposure than her speech four years ago at the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

Then, she had about 13 minutes on the podium to call for a leader who would promote the country's economic security. Four years later, the theme was much the same — with an energy twist.

Although many of the delegates from other states didn't pay much attention during Granholm's turn in the spotlight, Michigan delegates cheered when she walked to the podium and again when she recognized the delegation "from the great state of Michigan!"

As she wrapped up, some Michigan delegates broke into chants of "Jennifer! Jennifer!"


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