Largest Community Solar Project in Michigan is Homegrown with Consumers, GVSU partnership

Consumers Energy, Grand Valley State University Break Ground on $15 million Leadership Center (PRNewsFoto/Consumers Energy)

Consumer’s Energy and Grand Valley State University in Michigan have a good working relationship. Last summer, the two organizations broke ground on a state of the art leadership center at the school’s downtown Grand Rapids campus. The facility will be LEED silver certified, and is scheduled to open next year.

Last week, GVSU and Consumers Energy announced their plans to continue their green collaboration. This time the project is somewhat more ambitious. Consumers Energy is constructing the state’s largest community solar array on the GVSU campus.

It is a logical next step.

How Does Your Solar Garden Grow?

The three MW solar farm,  part of the utility’s Solar Gardens community solar program, will be located on 17 acres of university property.  It is expected to come on-line by the spring. The school will be a customer.

“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 [see] the opportunity the project will give our students to learn about renewables while making a real difference in our energy future.”

The GVSU solar garden will be the first community solar program Consumers Energy develops. A second project is planned at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.

Keeping it Local

“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.”

Indeed the project is strongly home grown. Even the panels will be manufactured in state, at Suniva’s Saginaw plant.

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 state has a well-deserved reputation for a high-caliber work force. …The transportation infrastructure is fantastic, and the leadership in both the government and the business community, as reflected in these significant projects by Consumers Energy, continually demonstrate their commitment to developing clean tech solutions – and equally important, jobs.”

Solar Future in Michigan

Lat year, Consumers Energy reached its target of generating 10 percent of its electricity from renewable sources a year ahead of schedule.

The GVSU project shines a positive light on solar in the state at a time when proposed legislation may put its future in jeopardy.

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