Michigan’s largest utility, Consumers Energy, is enabling more customer choice when it comes to renewable energy, thanks to the launch of its first community solar program, called Solar Gardens.
Announced on August 17th, the Consumers Energy Solar Gardens program will allow some of its customers to opt for clean solar electricity for their homes, without having to install a solar PV array, as the utility will be building at least one new solar facility in its service territory, with the potential for more to be built based on customer interest.
Consumers Energy has named Grand Valley State University (Ottawa County) and Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo County) as two potential locations for the community solar garden facility, which is expected to begin construction early in 2016. The first community solar project is planned to be up and running during 2016, adding to Michigan’s solar energy production. The utility is currently collecting contact info for Consumers Energy customers interested in participating in the Solar Gardens program, and will announce the pricing information and begin enrolling customers later this year.
“We are excited to be making progress as we seek to develop new sources of renewable energy. We look forward to watching Solar Gardens grow as we continue our relationship with Michigan residents to protect and preserve the environment.” – Tim Sparks, Consumers Energy’s VP for energy supply operations
Consumers Energy, which is a subsidiary of CMS Energy, currently provides both electricity and natural gas to 6.6 million Michigan residents, and reached its goal of generating 10% of its electricity from renewable energy sources last year, one year ahead of schedule. To achieve that goal, Consumers Energy brought two wind farms online, as well as contracting to buy renewably-produced electricity from hydroelectric, wind turbines, anaerobic digestion, and landfill gas generation operations.
The utility offers its customers the choice of enrolling in its Green Generation program, which allows Consumers Energy participants to opt for 100% coverage of their monthly electricity consumption at a cost premium of 1 cent per kilowatt hour, or for a specific number of “Green Blocks” monthly at an extra cost of $1.50 each.
Image: Deb Nystrom