MAREC director helps LEED the way

Courtesy photo /

Boezaart was recognized as a thought leader in renewable energies by West Michigan Business Review.

Courtesy photo / Boezaart was recognized as a thought leader in renewable energies by West Michigan Business Review.

Following his recognition by Business Review West Michigan as a thought leader in renewable energy and resources, director of Grand Valley State University’s Muskegon Alternative and Renewable Energy Center Arn Boezaart said though nomination was a shock, it has not changed him.

“I appreciate the recognition,” Boezaart said. “That’s not to say that if I were giving out the award, I wouldn’t have a few people in front of me in line, but it is a humbling experience. To be recognized this way gives me more credibility when I stand up to talk about these energy resources. It gives me a soap box to stand on and a chance to tell people about the opportunities we have in this region.”

Thought Leaders in Business Review are nominated, either by others or themselves. Boezaart said that he called the publication to find out who nominated him, but the party wished to remain anonymous.

“I guess I did something that someone thought was worthy,” he said. “I wish I knew who.”

Boezaart has been the MAREC director for two years. In his time there, the staff has focused their attention on bringing as many sources of revenue for renewable energies as possible to the region.

Another major project for MAREC, Boezaart said, is the wind project for West Michigan. He and several colleagues have shown their support for the construction of several wind turbines to be placed six miles offshore in Lake Michigan, and would be the first offshore turbines in the United States. However, public policy and public perception has been a major obstacle.

Boezaart compared the opposition to renewable energy to the lighthouses of Muskegon.

“I’m sure when the first person wanted to put up something to help boats see, there were a lot of people who said that they were an eyesore and destroyed the beauty of the coast,” he said. “Now there are groups that exist solely to protect them even though they’re obsolete.”

Although Boezaart and his colleagues are pioneering this research in the area, he rejects the idea of being called revolutionary.

“I wouldn’t go that far,” he said. “We help businesses get off the ground, first and foremost. We are a research facility second.”

Michigan’s efforts to be the first to enter into offshore wind energy are not alone. Similar groups have been formed on the east coast as well as the area surrounding Lake Ontario.

“It will happen,” Boezaart said. “Someone is going to put turbines in the water. It might be next year, three years, five years or more, but someone is going to do it and they will be in the driver’s seat.”

Boezaart said he was excited by the initiative that GVSU is taking on the issue. The federal government recently approved the purchase of a floating research station by GVSU to study the wind patterns on the lake.

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