Michigan utility celebrates 1st solar - Smart Energy Decisions

Utilities, Distributed Generation, Industrial, Solar  -  June 10, 2016

Michigan utility celebrates 1st solar site, state's largest community project

Michigan may not be one of the highest ranked states for solar generation, but supportive renewable energy policies and growing pressure from corporations looking for more access to clean energy may be moving the needle.

On June 10, Consumers Energy held a celebration for its first solar power plant, a 3-MW installation that spans 17-acres at Grand Valley State University, which will generate electricity for corporate and residential customers of the utility. Consumers is the electric utility subsidiary of CMS Energy, one of Michigan's two major investor-owned utility holding companies. 

The project, which features an array of 11,000 made-in-Michigan solar panels, is the largest community solar project in Michigan, Consumers said in a news release. The utility is building a second site at Western Michigan University, which is expected to open late this summer, and is also considering a mid-Michigan location. 

"We are pleased to energize Michigan with new, renewable sources of energy," Consumers Energy President and CEO John Russell said in the release. "This new Solar Gardens location illustrates our commitment to finding new approaches that will sustain our state for generations to come.

Consumers Energy said it already Michigan's requirements to provide 10% of its electricity from renewable sources and continues to develop renewable energy sources in Michigan by:

  • Operating two wind farms, one near Lake Michigan and one in the Thumb region.
  • Agreeing to buy energy from a 100 MW wind farm under construction in the Thumb region.
  • Contracting to buy energy generated by wind, landfill gas, anaerobic digestion and hydroelectric generation.
  • Planning to develop additional sources of renewable energy to meet 100% of the energy use by a major new West Michigan data center.
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