Michigan utility Consumers Energy has issued a request for landowners to identify locations for utility scale solar facilities in locations around the state. Central to the utility’s clean energy plan is the buildout of 8 GW of solar facilities, half of which will be owned and operated by the utility, the other half by solar developers.
Currently, Consumers Energy is gathering information on ideal sites for solar projects. These sites include farm fields, brownfield sites, and publicly owned properties ranging from 500 to 900 acres, often comprised of multiple neighboring landowners, said the utility. A good solar site is characterized as flat, open, and treeless with direct access to sun and proximity to existing transmission infrastructure.
Participating landowners may sell the property or create an ongoing revenue source by entering into long-term easement agreements.
Consumers Energy targets utility scale projects around 100 MW in capacity, and that its projects will likely require between five to ten acres per megawatt of electricity. Each utility scale project creates hundreds of local construction jobs and can increase a community’s revenue, said the utility.
“We need support throughout Michigan, especially in rural and agricultural areas, and we want to work with landowners and local leaders interested in siting solar power plants to deliver environmental and economic benefits for their communities,” said Dennis Dobbs, vice president of Enterprise Project Management and Environmental Services. “Harnessing the sun is Michigan’s moonshot — and we won’t achieve this historic goal without help.”
Consumers Energy serves 6.8 million residential customers in all of Michigan’s 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
“Our goal is to meet Michigan’s property owners and communities where they are to start a conversation about mutually beneficial solar solutions,” said Dobbs.
If Consumers Energy achieves its goal of 8 GW of solar capacity by 2040, it will power roughly 60% of its operations with carbon-free electricity. This would equate to the removal of 63 million tons of carbon emissions, equivalent to removing 12.4 million gas-burning passenger vehicles from the road for one year. Currently, the utility has added 1.1 GW of solar capacity to come online by 2024.
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