WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) jointly announced a $750,000 federal grant to NextEnergy, the state’s renewable energy industry accelerator.

The grant from the federal Economic Development Administration will help fund improvements at NextEnergy’s research and development center in Detroit. Project planners estimate it will create or retain 328 jobs in Southeast Michigan.

The grant announced Friday will help NextEnergy create an Advanced Energy Innovation Center for Southeast Michigan. With the improvements, companies that are helping to create a cluster of energy innovation research and development in Southeast Michigan will have new opportunities to test and develop those innovations.

Said Levin in a statement: “With these improvements, more companies will be able to test and refine the technologies that will dominate our energy infrastructure in the decades to come, and that means more jobs for Michigan.”

And Stabenow added: “This Advanced Energy Innovation Center will help Michigan continue as the nation’s leader in new clean energy patents. This effort will help get these new inventions to market and will create opportunities for Michigan businesses to create jobs.”

Building on existing facilities, the project will:
* Upgrade NextEnergy’s microgrid pavilion to allow for testing and validation of electric vehicles, electric vehicle infrastructure, energy storage, power conditioning and control systems, and renewable energy integration such as off-grid public lighting.
* Upgrade testing facilities to allow multiple high-power testing activities to occur simultaneously.
* Upgrade electrical service to the facility, install new monitors and computer equipment, and make other improvements that make testing and development capabilities more robust.

The Economic Development Administration grant will cover half the project’s $1.5 million cost.