Ann Kammerer – Here comes the sun.
Starting in late January, the first community solar park in Greater Lansing began leasing panels to Lansing Board of Water and Light electric customers. With 200 of the 1,000 panels leased with the first few weeks, developers say construction on the MI Community Solar project could begin as early as Earth Day for a 300-kilowatt array at East Lansing’s Burcham Park—a retired landfill.
“Mid-Michigan is ready,” says John Kinch, executive direction of Michigan Energy Options, one of the partners on the project that includes BWL and Patriot Solar Group. “The solar industry is having phenomenal growth, and prices for solar panels and inverters are more affordable every day. People are realizing it’s a complement to the existing resources that provide us with electricity.”
Groundbreaking on the park will start once 80 percent of the panels are leased, as well as when various building permits and plans are approved by the City of East Lansing. The project will allow customers in the BWL electric service territory to support solar energy without having to install panels on their property. Solar supporters will sign a 25-year lease and pay a single upfront cost of $399 per panel. Lessees will then see a monthly on-bill credit from the BWL that reflects the amount of solar energy generated per panel.
Kinch says customers can lease just one panel, but many prefer two or more to contribute to the portfolio of clean energy available to their homes. Businesses and organizations may lease multiple panels as well, with the number based on their electrical load.
“When you support renewal energy, your return on investment is three-fold,” Kinch says. “The benefits are not just all economic, but also about the social good and our environment since we are helping to reduce greenhouse gasses.”
Kinch says the East Lansing community solar project is the first of its type in Michigan that involves a municipal utility, a non-profit and cities working together to provide a 300-kilowatt array. Following completion of the East Lansing park, the BWL and project partners plan to build a second community solar park adjacent to the BWL Wise Road Water Treatment Plant in Michigan.
To sign up and lease a panel, click here.