The Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards honors Michigan organizations and individuals for outstanding achievement in reducing energy waste. Nominations were spread across eight different categories in order to showcase exceptional commitment to responsible energy production and consumption across a variety of project types.

Odawa Casino Resort, owned and operated by the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and a member of Great Lakes Energy Cooperative, completed a number of efficiency improvements by engaging employees in a company-wide grassroots movement to save energy. After a massive upgrade to LED lighting, improvements in IT infrastructure, and installation of variable speed pumps, the resort had saved nearly 1.4 million kWh of electricity and more than 26,000 MMBTU of natural gas by the end of 2015. These enhancements helped the tribe fulfill one of its most important responsibilities: protecting Mother Earth.

In addition to significant, ongoing utility cost savings (more than $400,000 annually), Odawa Casino Resort received $81,000 in incentives from Great Lakes through the Energy Optimization program. Overall, the improvement projects boast an average return on investment of less than seven months.

“We are incredibly proud of the energy-saving projects completed at Odawa Casino Resort,” said Art Thayer, Director of Energy Efficiency Programs for the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association (MECA). “The Energy Optimization program exists to improve Michigan homes, farms, and businesses by providing cash incentives toward the purchase of energy-efficient products and equipment. We’re happy to see these businesses reap the rewards of these smart investments now and into the future.”

Another Energy Optimization program participant improving their business is Miller Family Farm in Carney. A member of Alger Delta Cooperative Electric Association, Miller Family Farm was honored as a Finalist vying for a coveted Governor’s Energy Excellence Award. Established in 2013, Miller Family Farm specializes in aquaponics to grow vegetables year-round. This sustainable, organic method of farming is free of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, and uses a fraction of the water expended in traditional field growing methods.

After upgrading to high-efficiency LED grow lights in their greenhouse, Miller Family Farm expects to save more than 80,000 kWh of electricity annually. The farm earned $5,000 in incentives from Alger Delta through the Energy Optimization program. The farm will reinvest the earnings in future energy-saving improvements.

Coveyou Scenic Farm Market (Petoskey), another Great Lakes Energy Optimization program participant, received Honorable Mention for their installation of a high-efficiency ground source heat pump. Other program participants nominated this year include Peterson Farms (Shelby) and Tecumseh High School (Tecumseh).

For more information about the Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards, visit