Consumers Energy breaks ground on 3-MW community solar project

Officials from Consumers Energy and Grand Valley State University on Oct. 2 celebrated their collaboration to expand renewable energy in Michigan, breaking ground on a new, 3-MW solar project.

“We thank Grand Valley State University for helping us take a Michigan-first approach to a sustainable future for our state,” said Dan Malone, Consumers Energy’s senior vice president of energy resources. “This project represents a cornerstone for our new Solar Gardens program, providing an avenue for customers to support the development of renewable energy that helps us continue to power homes and businesses across our state.”

“Our university has been a Michigan leader in supporting renewable energy and developing the next generation of students to live and work in our state,” said Grand Valley State University President Thomas J. Haas. “We are pleased to see Solar Gardens on our campus and the opportunity the project will give our students to learn about renewables, while making a real difference in our energy future.”

Consumers Energy will place solar panels on 17 acres near 48th Avenue and Luce Street on university property. The project could be complete and generating 3 MW by next spring.

Solar Gardens is the first program of its kind for Consumers Energy, and the Grand Valley location will be the largest community solar project in Michigan. The university will participate in the Solar Gardens program as a customer. Customers will be able to support the development of solar energy, and can start enrolling later this year.

“Michigan is the ideal location to continue our growth, and is core to our U.S. manufacturing strategy,” said Matt Card, vice president of global sales and marketing for Suniva Inc., the Saginaw manufacturer of the solar panels being used for the Solar Gardens project.

Consumers Energy has been active in developing renewable energy sources in Michigan. Last year, the company reached its target of generating 10% of its electricity from renewable sources a year ahead of schedule. That includes two wind farms, one near Lake Michigan and one in the Thumb area of southeast Michigan, and contracts to buy electricity generated by wind, landfill gas, anaerobic digestion and hydroelectric generation.

Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.6 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.