About Us

The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is an organization founded by conservatives who believe that Michigan should adopt a genuine “All of the Above” approach to energy policy that includes increasing our commitment to clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Moving Michigan towards an “All of the Above” energy policy will create jobs, expand our economy, increase national security and grid security, improve public health, and leave behind a powerful legacy for future generations. We encourage you to stay involved through our website, by checking out our Facebook, Twitter, YouTube Channels and Newsletter for regular news & event updates. 


LEADERSHIP COUNCIL

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Ed Rivet

Executive Director

Ed has served as a political activist in Lansing since 1988. He has more than 30 years of experience in government affairs and holds a Master’s Degree in Policy Analysis and Evaluation from Michigan State University.  

Ed is passionate about his belief that conservatives need to lead the energy policy discussion. 

Improving the quality of life for all Michiganders, especially those among us in the greatest need of protection – our children and seniors – is very important to me and my core beliefs.

Sound energy policy is rooted in conservative values like economic growth, strong national security and healthy families. I am honored to serve on the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum Leadership Council because it’s a tremendous opportunity for conservatives to show the nation that it’s possible to create jobs, stimulate our economy, and improve public health through responsible expansion of renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Ed joined the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum Leadership Council in February 2014.


Larry Ward

Midwest Regional Director
Conservative Energy Network

Larry Ward is the former Executive Director of the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum (MICEF). He founded the non-profit organization in 2013 to provide a voice for conservatives in the energy policy debate, with a focus on advancing clean, renewable energy, and energy efficiency. Since its launch, MCEF has become a trusted clean energy advocate, working to depoliticize energy policy in Michigan and across the nation.  

Larry's conservative political perspective is a driving force behind his pursuit of an energy future that emphasizes a clean energy economy, energy security, and conservation of our natural resources; he believes Michigan can achieve homegrown, sustainable, and affordable energy that lessens our dependence on foreign oil and creates good-paying local jobs.  

Larry and his team are proud to play a role in promoting Michigan's ongoing clean energy and energy efficiency successes. Most recently, Larry was chosen to participate in Michigan Senator Nofs' energy work group, where he met with various stakeholders over the course of two years to propose comprehensive solutions for the state's energy landscape. In addition to these stakeholder meetings, Larry also seeks to educate policymakers and the public every day on the vast economic, security, and conservation benefits of clean energy and energy efficiency.  

Larry's dedication and commitment to conservative policies and solutions is evident throughout his political career. His consulting firm, Republican Advisory Services LLC, successfully ran the campaign for current Secretary of State Ruth Johnson. Larry served two terms as the Political Director of the Michigan Republican Party. He has a long history of grassroots GOP activism, first as a candidate for State Representative, followed by his role as the Ingham County Republican Party Chairman. Larry also served as a Deputy Coalitions Director for the DeVos for Governor Campaign, and served as the 8th District Chairman for the U.S. Congressman Mike Rogers. In 2012, Governor Rick Snyder appointed Larry to the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System Board (MPSERS) where he served from 2013 to 2018. 

For too long, we have allowed the debate on energy policy to be dominated by voices on the Left.  But energy policy impacts every Michigander and every American – and Conservatives have solutions to our energy challenges, and contributions to make to the policy debate.  It’s time that Conservatives come to the table, make their voices heard, and lead the way to a clean energy future.

Larry was raised in Plymouth, Michigan and is a graduate of Western Michigan University. He currently lives in Williamston, Michigan, with his wife Karen, and their three sons – all of whom are “MSU Spartans” – Jacob, Aaron, and Joshua.


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Hank Fuhs

Secretary
Michigan Republican State Committee

A retired United States Air Force/Air National Guard Lieutenant Colonel, Hank exemplifies what it means to serve.
 
Hank served his country for more than 31 years in the US Armed Forces and he continues to make a difference today in numerous capacities. Hank is a member of the Kent County Republican Party, the Third District Republican Committee, and is a local leader on conservative issues. Today however, Hank is best known as the Secretary of the Michigan Republican State Committee – a volunteer position to which he has been elected since 1982.  

Hank is also a small business owner, serving as the President of Fuhs Brothers, specializing in pharmaceutical, specialty medical services, and retail sales.

Republicans have long been leaders on energy policy — from Teddy Roosevelt to Gerald Ford to Ronald Reagan. Energy security is national security. The less reliant we are on foreign nations for our energy production, the safer our nation will be. It’s time for Republicans to again lead on energy policy.

Hank is a founding member of the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum Leadership Council.  


Chris Pawsat

Young Professionals Outreach Coordinator
Michigan Conservative Energy Forum

A lifelong Republican, Chris has participated in several political campaigns,
including his own campaign for Ingham County Commissioner in 2016 and the grassroots campaign “Spartans for Snyder”, which helped Governor Snyder get reelected in 2014. He is also the former President and Chair of MSU’s chapter of Turning Point USA and a voting member of the Ingham County GOP executive committee.

Clean energy is an issue that everyone can unite behind regardless of political party. Diversifying our energy sources and producing cleaner, affordable, and efficient energy is an issue that many young professionals feel are important to boost our economy, create jobs, lower rates, and protect our natural resources for decades to come.

Christopher is currently the Development Director at his family’s medical practice and does political consulting. Christopher is also a member of the Army National Guard. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from James Madison College at Michigan State University. Christopher joined the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum Leadership Council in December 2016.


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Jim MacInnes P.E.

Chairman and CEO
Crystal Mountain Resort

Jim is a long time advocate of strengthening US energy security through the deployment of renewable energy, transportation electrification, and by reducing energy waste. He is a US Navy Viet Nam War Veteran and graduate from the University of California, Irvine where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering and an MBA with a major in finance. He became a licensed professional electrical engineer in 1980.  

Jim worked as a power engineer for Ebasco Services, Inc., the company that designed Michigan’s Ludington Pumped Storage facility and later went on to develop renewable power plants in California. He moved to Michigan in 1985 and became chairman and CEO of Crystal Mountain Resort in 1987. Crystal Mountain is an energy intensive business that employs up to 650 people, has developed $100 million in resort projects and has received numerous awards for its work on energy conservation, including Governor Snyder's "Energy Innovator of the Year" award in 2015.  Jim, and his wife Chris, earned the US Small Business Administration’s Entrepreneurial Success award for the State of Michigan. Jim serves on the board of directors of Fifth Third Bank, West Michigan.

Environmental and energy issues affect all of us, it isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue. We all need to give back to our communities and do what we can to make the world a better place to live and work.

In 2011 Governor Snyder appointed Jim as chair of the Michigan Utility Consumer Participation Board, which represents the interests of residential ratepayers in electric and gas utility rate cases. He served on the Great Lakes Offshore Wind Council and has testified on energy issues before the Michigan Senate and House energy policy committees. Jim is also a life senior member of the Electrical Engineers’ professional association known as the IEEE. He served as vice-chair of the IEEE USA energy policy committee in 2014 and is a member of the IEEE Power and Energy and Power Electronics societies. The IEEE is the world’s largest professional association dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity. 

Jim joined the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum Leadership Council in April 2015.


Joanna Lewis

Program Director

Joanna Lewis is the Program Administrator of the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum (MICEF).

A Michigander originally, Joanna’s political career commenced in Alaska in 2013 as a legislative aide for former State Representative Bob Lynn (R – Anchorage). Her work as Rep. Lynn’s Deputy Chief of Staff exposed her to a wide variety of policy issues as well as the intricacies of the legislative process. Most recently she served as a Civil Deputy Clerk for the Three Affiliated Tribes in North Dakota. Joanna brings expertise in communications, social media management, and policy research to her position at MICEF.

As a Lansing native, I am thrilled to be back in Michigan, working to highlight the voice of conservatives on clean energy. Conservatives have much to offer to the state energy debate, including ideas to help expand the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency, as well as to strengthen Michigan’s position as a national leader in attracting clean energy jobs and investment.

Joanna earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from Michigan State University. She joined the MICEF team in June 2017.


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Dean Berden

Vice Chair
Sanilac County GOP
Secretary
Organic Farmers of MI
10th District Republican State Committee Member

Dean is a former teacher and taught Industrial Education for 26 years. The last few years of his teaching career the class worked on a solar electric car, leading Dean to build his house that is run solely on solar power. Dean also runs a fully self-sustaining organic farm that has 850 acres. His success with solar for the past 14 years led to Dean helping others with their solar installations with his business DB Solar LLC.

Dean is the Secretary, and one of two founding board members, of Organic Farmers of MI, a grower owned company that markets more than 10,000 acres of land. Organic Farmers of Michigan’s mission is to ”increase the viability of farming for all generations and to provide the local community, as well as abroad, with healthy and nutritional foods.” Organic Farmers of MI has more than 50 members and over $40 million in sales each year.

Currently Dean serves on the Health Board and Department of Human Services (DHS) Board for Sanilac County and is Chairman of the Brownfield Redevelopment Board. He is also an active member of the Sanilac County GOP where he serves as Vice Chair. Dean has been married for 45 years to his wife Kathy Berden and they have 4 children and 10 grandchildren.

Dean joined the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum Leadership Council in April 2015.


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Vytau K. Virskus ME, JD

Principal
Millenium Energy Company

Vytau was born in a displaced persons camp in southern Germany shortly after World War II. His parents where refugees from the Russian occupation of Lithuania, and immigrated to the United States on a liberty ship. He grew up in Flint Michigan, and attended Michigan State University, graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering. Following graduation he worked at MSU as an operations and energy manager until he left that position to pursue a degree in law at Thomas M. Cooley Law school where he earned a Juris Doctor.

Vytau is the Principal of Millenium Energy Company and has over 35 years of power generation, energy management, and building automation experience. He has provided analytical, consulting, project management, and commissioning services for numerous commercial, institutional, educational, and industrial clients. Vytau has completed numerous successful energy efficiency and utility cost reduction projects for school districts, hospitals and universities, generating up to $1M in annual cost savings. Collectively, the total savings is estimated to be over $30M over the last 15 years alone.

Vytau has a diverse energy background, also having been involved in developing a number of electric generation projects, and has negotiated electric power purchase agreements with public utilities.

More recently he has developed a process for conversion of large-scale industrial, institutional, and commercial chilled and hot water systems to variable volume flow for which he has received a US patent. The mathematical algorithm makes it possible to convert large hydronic systems to variable flow, a major improvement in energy efficiency, which is otherwise very difficult without significant and costly physical piping modifications.  

His focus is on energy analysis and solution development for implementation of energy retrofit projects, the design of enterprise-wide building automation and control, and energy commissioning to optimize energy savings. Vytau has assisted companies in comparative analyses of energy use for national and global industrial operations to identify and prioritize energy system improvements based on energy intensity. He has provided consultation on enterprise energy utilization plans for multiple industrial facilities using up to $20M per facility, and has assisted in the development of loss reduction and system efficiency optimization strategies employing both current and emerging technologies. 

Energy efficiency is not too lofty of a goal; it’s the easiest and cheapest form of energy because it is energy we don’t use - an avoided cost. It’s important that we continue to invest in energy efficient technology now to reap the future rewards, like lower electric bills and even less reliance on our electric grid. Environmental prudence, together with economic and social benefit, must be applied to both the production of energy, and its use.

Vytau is also an affiliate of the consulting group providing consultations on energy and building automation to national and international clients. He has also been a guest lecturer at the Michigan State University College of Engineering.

Vytau joined the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum Leadership Council in March 2017.  


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Andrew Kapanowski

Chairman
Michigan Federation of College Republicans

Originally from Dexter, Michigan, Andrew is an honors student at Ferris State University where he is earning his degree in Business Administration, with a minor in Finance. Andrew has been involved with politics since his sophomore year of college. He is currently the vice president of the College Republicans at Ferris State and the chair of the Michigan Federation of College Republicans. His goal in this role is to grow and expand the conservative movement on college campuses throughout Michigan.

In fall 2017, he was one of five individuals chosen for the inaugural MICEF Youth Fellowship Program, in which he conducted independent research on Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing in the state.

I am interested in energy solutions that are driven by sound economics. Clean and efficient energy solutions that are pro-free market, reliable, and affordable for Michigan ratepayers are the future.

Andrew joined the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum Leadership Council in October 2017.


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Jake Putala

Michigan DNR Youth Conservation Council Member

Originally from Arnheim, Michigan, Jake is a longtime advocate for the Upper Peninsula. He is currently a student at Lansing Community College pursuing a degree in political science and plans to continue his education at a four-year university where he will major in public policy. He is a member of the First Congressional District Republican Youth Subcommittee, the Michigan DNR Youth Conservation Council, and serves on the board for the U.P. Whitetails Baraga County Chapter.

Energy policy directly affects the lives of all Michiganders, but especially the residents of the U.P. where our electricity rates are among the highest in the nation. I believe that conservative principles such as free markets and competition will drive down the cost of electricity, encourage innovation, and lead to a diverse and robust energy industry in our great state.

In fall 2017, Jake was one of five individuals chosen for the inaugural MICEF Youth Fellowship Program. He conducted research on the energy crisis in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and shared his findings and potential policy solutions with media across the U.P.

Jake joined the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum Leadership Council in January 2018.


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Matthew X. Hauser

State Committee Member
Michigan Republican State Committee

Matt has a strong background in grassroots mobilization and politics, having been involved in Republican politics since high school on both the local and state levels. He is currently serving his third term on the Michigan Republican State Committee for the 13th Congressional District and also coordinates the Grassroots USA Pizza and Politics networking meetings throughout the state.

Outside of politics Matt has been involved in the jewelry business since 2007. In this role Matt experienced first-hand the importance of keeping costs down to ensure the continued success and expansion of business in Michigan.

The future of our energy production is not a Right vs. Left issue. Energy is an issue that impacts us all no matter our political affiliation and it is critical we work together to find the safest, cleanest, and most efficient ways to power tomorrow. Being a good steward of the environment, while reducing energy waste, is just the right thing to do.

He is pursuing an MBA and Juris Doctor, both from Michigan State University, and holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Matt joined the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum Leadership Council in April 2017.