LANSING (WWJ) – The Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council, an advanced energy business association, Monday night honored Michigan advanced energy companies at the first annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala.

The business awards included three categories: business of the year; emerging company of the year; and employer of the year. The winners included:

* Business of the Year: VenTower Industries, a Monroe-based wind tower manufacturer
* Emerging Company of the Year: GreenLancer, a Detroit-based company offering an e-commerce platform to the solar industry
* Employer of the Year: Patriot Solar Group, an Albion-based solar racking company

“The Michigan Energy Innovators Gala award recipients represent the very best in the Michigan advanced energy industry and demonstrate that energy innovation is being made in Michigan,” said Mi-EIBC President Dan Scripps. “These companies are creating economic opportunities in Michigan and growing an industry that represents the future of our state. Whether it’s a new web-based platform that reduces costs for solar developers or a state-of-the-art, 115,000 square foot facility housing the fabrication of utility- and distributed-scale wind towers or a firm manufacturing racking systems for photovoltaic solar panels, our winners have identified real business opportunities in the advanced energy industry. We’re honored to recognize them on behalf of the industry for their leadership.”

In addition to the business awards, the Gala also recognized the following individuals:

* Public Official of the Year: Michigan Public Service Commission Chairman John Quackenbush and Michigan Energy Office Director Steve Bakkal, for leading the energy data gathering process “Readying Michigan to Make Good Energy Decisions”
* Michigan Energy Innovators Hall of Fame: Stanford Ovshinsky (awarded posthumously) and Richard VanderVeen

VanderVeen is the developer of both Michigan’s first commercial wind farm and Michigan’s largest commercial wind farm and has developed a community engagement process that led to a unanimous vote of the Gratiot County Commission to adopt countywide zoning for wind projects.

Stanford Ovshinsky was a Michigan innovator who’s been called “The Edison of our Age” and whose inventions included nickel-metal hydride battery, continuous web multi-junction flexible thin-film solar energy laminates and panels and hydrogen fuel cells.

The evening also featured a keynote speech from Jigar Shah. Shah is the founder of SunEdison, the world’s largest solar services company, and currently works as a consultant and author. A respected author and thought leader, Shah recently released his latest book, “Creating Climate Wealth.”

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