When people think of the tech sector, they understandably think of Silicon Valley. But believe it or not, only five other states added more tech jobs than Michigan in 2015.
Technology now accounts for 202,000 jobs in our state, a number comparable to tourism and other prominent sectors of the economy. And while reliable energy is an important component of supporting a thriving technology sector in our state, the tech sector also plays a key role in helping keep energy reliable and affordable, so the relationship between local energy providers and Michigan’s tech industry is truly symbiotic.
Michigan is in the process of reinventing our state’s energy system, integrating advanced technologies into every aspect of power generation and delivery in Michigan from customer service, to system monitoring, to smart meters that help consumers better track and manage their energy use. And it’s not just local power companies that are adapting and taking advantage of new innovations but also the entire energy supply chain.
Tech Has Transformed Production for Many Different Energy Sources
The way energy is produced has changed drastically in recent years. Those innovations are making a variety of sources, including wind, solar, and natural gas, cleaner, more cost-effective, less disruptive, and more scalable, all of which is good news for Michiganders now and in the future. Technology is helping Michigan transition to more efficient and cleaner energy production and helping renewables become a more significant part of our energy mix.
Tech Improves our Electric Infrastructure
Michigan continues to invest in and develop our state’s smart grid. Managing an electric grid to ensure affordable, reliable power is all about having the right information in real time so power can be distributed and maintained efficiently. New technologies like smart grid sensors make the grid more responsive by monitoring power lines and assessing the health of the system to ensure problems are corrected before they occur. Energy providers use this technology to restore power more quickly and limit the number of customers impacted when outages occur. Investments in these types of technologies ultimately make it easier and more cost-efficient to maintain 24/7 reliability.
Increasingly, energy companies are developing and relying on supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) using complex systems of computers, networked data communications, advanced metering, and consumer apps to create an accurate picture of the local power situation. Much of the investment to build out enhanced infrastructure and keep new substations and smart meters on the cutting edge of innovation will be right here in Michigan. Michigan’s own Detroit Labs, LLC has developed an app that allows consumers to report outages and see where power has been restored in storms.
Tech Improves Consumers’ Experience with Electricity
At any level of the supply chain, technology is growing and changing Michigan’s energy industry, including the level where you actually use energy. There are many ways technology is transforming how you interact with energy in your own home. The “Internet of Things” has provided consumers with refrigerators, microwaves, washers, and dryers, and a host of other household items that use technology that not only makes them smart but more energy efficient.
A Place to Grow Talent in Tech
These innovations don’t just translate into more energy-efficient infrastructure, but also into jobs for a wide array of tech workers. A number of initiatives exist to develop homegrown tech talent in Michigan, and others have been established to attract tech workers to the area. Our high-profile universities also strengthen the state’s reputation in this area. Technology is changing our energy supply chain from the ground up, bringing with it new jobs and opportunities for all of Michigan.