Q&A: A Michigan clean energy pioneer keeps looking to the future

On the outskirts of Traverse City, Michigan, sitting in the middle of farmland off M-72, is a giant lonely wind turbine that, in addition to electricity, produces a sense of pride for Jim Carruthers. As a private citizen in 1996, he helped push for construction of this now-iconic structure, at the time the largest operating wind turbine in the country. Today, he is mayor of this 15,000-plus-population (and growing) tourist town off the shores of Lake Michigan. He recently helped make news for Traverse City by setting a goal of powering all its city operations with renewable energy by 2020. Along the way toward that goal, though, he’s discovering the costs are higher than anticipated, including a surcharge for a new solar array.

As electric future unfolds, gasoline remains king

Electric vehicle technology has a bright future, says a leading industry analyst, but the focus for the near future will continue to be developing internal-combustion engines that meet tightening economy standards while still being affordable to consumers.