This project is a 1.3 MW installation located in Coldwater, Michigan, on the site of a demolished Marmon foundry. It is a 7-acre project that deploys nearly 5,000 solar panels to produce enough electricity to power roughly 150 homes. The project became operational in February 2018.
Coldwater Board of Utilities (CBPU), a municipality-owned and operated utility, spearheaded the project, with the community benefit of converting the brownfield into useful space. Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources LLC installed the farm under a contract with American Municipal Power (AMP), of which Coldwater is a member.
This project is located in East Lansing, Michigan, on the site of a retired, capped landfill. It is a 1-acre project on a 2.7 acre site that will produce 430,000 kWh annually—enough to power around 60 homes. The site holds 1,000 solar panels. The project opened in December 2018.
The project was driven by an East Lansing-area nonprofit, Michigan Energy Options, under the auspices of Community Energy Options, an LLC it created for the project. Michigan Energy Options (MEO) partnered with the Lansing Board of Water and Light (Lansing BWL), the City of East Lansing, and Pivot Energy, a Denver-based solar energy company that develops, finances, builds, and manages community and commercial solar projects around the country.
The project is a 1/2 MW installation located in Cadillac, Michigan on the site of an old Mitchell Bentley plant that burned down in 2013. It is a 5-acre project on a 20-acre former industrial site that required remediation of rubble, lead, PCE, and asbestos. This project began in 2019 and is expected to be operational before Summer 2020.
Consumers Energy developed the site in coordination with the Cadillac City Council. Brian Warner, an environmental manager at Wolverine Power (a local energy supplier) was interested in getting the site redeveloped and used for a solar installation. Warner initiated the collaboration between the City of Cadillac and Consumers Energy.
This project is a 2.44 MW installation located in O’Shea Park in the Grandale neighborhood of Detroit, Michigan. While not formerly a brownfield, the formerly blighted site is a 20-acre park housing a 9.6-acre project that will produce enough electricity to power roughly 450 homes.1 The project was commissioned in July 2017.
The project was developed by DTE in partnership with the City of Detroit. DTE relocated 2 MW of their 50 ME Lapeer, Michigan, solar project to Detroit after talks with the City’s mayor.
With technological advances, many parts of Michigan are becoming viable for both wind and solar energy projects. While both offer the promise of long-lasting clean energy, these two forms of renewables have different benefits and impacts on the local community. Because some impacts vary depending on the type of landscape and the population density, it can be tricky to do a head-to-head comparison of wind and solar.
A unique opportunity arose in Shiawassee County, where within the course of two years, both a wind farm and a solar project were proposed. Ultimately, the county set zoning regulations that allowed the solar project but made the wind farm impossible to construct as proposed. By looking at the projected impacts of both of these project proposals, we can learn more about how the community-level impacts of solar and wind compare.
Many energy and environmental advocates tout the job benefits of renewable energy—and they aren’t exaggerating. Overall, there are an estimated 111,000 jobs in the wind industry1, and Wind Turbine Technician is reported to be the second-fastest-growing profession, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics2.
However, not all—or even most—of the jobs in the wind energy industry are in the communities that host wind farms. For example, Clean Jobs America reported that 56% of wind jobs are in manufacturing and construction3. Further, not all wind energy jobs are long-term jobs. While some construction jobs are long-term as workers follow new projects from site to site, other jobs associated with the construction of wind turbines are temporary.
What is often of most interest to communities who are considering hosting wind energy projects is how many long-term local jobs will be created.
Gratiot County has used collaborative planning between residents, businesses, and municipalities since the 1970s. In 2008, Greater Gratiot Development, Inc. (GGDI), a public/private partnership devoted to economic growth, worked with local leaders to apply for and receive funding from the Partnership for Change to support the formation of a countywide master plan. In 2011, the Gratiot Regional Excellence and Transformation (GREAT) plan was the first of its kind in Michigan to establish collective goals across municipal boundaries.
Economic development is one of the key benefits wind development brings to the communities that host wind farms. This economic development comes in two primary forms: community-wide (primarily through the property taxes that wind developers pay to local governments) and personally (through payments made directly to landowners).
Most commonly, personal payments go to landowners who allow a wind developer to place turbines or other equipment on their property. The actual amount paid to these landowners varies greatly from place to place and depends upon how many acres are included in the lease, among other factors.
Michigan’s renewable portfolio standard requiring that 15 percent of retail electricity sales come from renewable energy sources by 2021 motivates an exploration of ways in which Michigan might best use its resources to achieve its renewable energy targets. Brownfield sites owned by the Michigan Land Bank are plentiful state-owned resources that have great potential to be used as solar development sites. However, several challenges exist that hinder this seemingly evident solution. This report primarily draws upon knowledge gained via interviews with a variety of stakeholders, aimed at both defining these barriers and proposing avenues forward.