Following the release of the company’s updated Clean Energy Plan, leaders from Consumers Energy, the state of Michigan and the city of Cadillac, US, have dedicated the company’s third solar power plant, Cadillac Solar Gardens. The Clean Energy Plan proposes using nearly 8000 MW of solar energy by 2040, ending the use of coal by 2025, achieving net-zero carbon emissions and saving customers US$650 million through to 2040.
Cadillac Solar Gardens will generate nearly half a MW of electricity, enough to power as many as 100 homes at a time. The site has 1752 panels and includes a battery storage system.
“Cadillac Solar Gardens represents yet another bold step in our efforts to lead the clean energy transformation,” said Lauren Youngdahl Snyder, Consumers Energy’s vice president for customer experience. “As Consumers Energy’s first Brownfield to Brightfield project and our third solar power plant, this project will help us protect our planet, spur economic development in this community, and allow us to provide cleaner, more reliable energy across the state. It also builds on our strong and ongoing commitment to providing low-cost solar energy to our customers. Bottom line ¬– it’s a win-win for all involved”.
The site is a repurposed brownfield land with a manufacturing history that dates to the late 1800s. Before the solar power plant, the site had been vacant for more than 30 years after the closure of an auto manufacturer.
“This project marries two of Michigan EGLE’s important strategies,” said Liesl Clark, director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). “It puts a formerly vacant, contaminated property back into productive use and onto local tax rolls, improves air quality, and moves Michigan closer to meeting Governor Whitmer’s Mi Healthy Climate plan goal of statewide carbon neutrality by 2050.”
Consumers Energy also operates solar power plants at Grand Valley State University and Western Michigan University, both also located in the US. Those two locations generate enough power to serve over 800 homes at a time.
The company’s three solar locations are part of the Solar Gardens community solar programme. Consumers Energy customers enrolled in Solar Gardens pay as little as US$10 a month to support solar projects and receive bill credits based on electricity that’s generated.
Each year, the company is adding more clean, renewable, solar-generated electricity for Michigan with plans for 1100 MW of utility-scale solar to come online between 2022 - 2024. The company’s solar ramp-up will continue throughout the coming decade. By 2040, clean, renewable fuel sources such as solar and wind will comprise more than 60% of the company’s electric capacity.
In addition to its environmental benefits, solar is increasingly cost competitive with other fuel sources. Consumers Energy can also add solar gradually, providing flexibility to respond to emerging needs, adapt to changing conditions and embrace new technology — without having to build a large, new fossil fuel power plant.
The company is one of Michigan’s largest energy providers, providing natural gas and/or electricity to 6.8 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.