Consumers Energy to debut solar garden at WMU

Consumers Energy solar garden at Western Michigan University
An Aug. 15, 2016 courtesy photo of the new solar garden at Western Michigan University. (Consumers Energy)


KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Consumers Energy will cut the ribbon on their second solar garden in Michigan on Friday.

The solar facility is a 1-megawatt plant located on 8.5 acres at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo near US-131.

In April, Consumers Energy opened its first ever solar garden at Grand Valley State University in Allendale — a 3-megawatt power plant.

The two solar facilities combined can power up to 800 homes across the state. The new plant at WMU can power up to 200 homes.

A rendering of the solar garden proposed for GVSU's Allendale campus. (Image provided by Consumers Energy)
A rendering of the solar garden proposed for GVSU’s Allendale campus. (Image provided by Consumers Energy)

Consumers Energy customers can buy into the solar program by subscribing to it for just $10 a month. That monthly fee will get customers the energy produced by about a panel and a half of the garden. The energy it produces will appear as a credit on the customer’s bill.

Consumers Energy said about 60 percent of available panels have been subscribed to.

The panels are low maintenance for the company. Rain cleans them off and the snow melts off the panels as they heat up in the winter. The panels are also able to continuously produce power as long as the sun is up, even on a cloudy day.

Consumers said they have a goal of producing enough solar energy to power 2,000 homes throughout the state and will build more as demand continues.

“We hope to build up to 10-megawatts so that’s 6-megawatts more. As much as people want to subscribe, we will build more,” said Emily Warners, the project manager for the solar gardens. “We are proud to be producing solar power in that we are using sustainable energy in the state of Michigan.”

There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the solar garden at WMU Friday afternoon.

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