Consumers Energy is building its second large-scale solar power plant, a 1 megawatt solar farm, on 8.5 acres of Western Michigan University property. The new project is part Consumers Energy’s Solar Gardens program, which allows homeowners and renters to go solar without putting solar panels on their rooftop.
Expansion of community solar projects is attractive to both utilities and consumers. "This new facility will allow us to contribute immediately to the production of sustainable energy for Michigan and serve in the long term as an example for how partnership and innovation can be used to meet the important interests of our community," said WMU President John M. Dunn.
Under Consumers Energy scheme homeowners and renters in Consumer Energy’s service region can subscribe for 1/2 kilowatt SolarBlocks—average homeowners can get up to 12 SolarBlocks for a monthly fee. As the SolarBlocks produce electricity the subscriber is credited for the amount their blocks produce on their monthly solar bill.
It’s the second community solar farm being built by the utility. Its first community solar farm was a 3 megawatt farm opened April at Grand Valley State University.
The arrays are part of Consumers Energy’ is trying to green its energy supply. Earlier this year it closed seven coal-fired power plants this year. "We are pleased to work with Western Michigan University and the public to provide energy from new, renewable sources right here in our state," said Dan Malone, Consumers Energy's senior vice president of energy resources. "Western Michigan University has a longtime commitment to sustainability and helping our state use its resources wisely."
Across the country community solar projects could expand access to solar power to between 3 million and 12 million households. That’s according to a recent report released by the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) and the Shelton Group. However, community solar still has a far way to go. The study found nearly 60 percent of respondents are interested in solar power but only 20 percent understand what community solar is.Tweet