Jackson-based Consumers Energy Co. plans to build its third solar power plant, in Cadillac, a 500,000-watt solar array to power 100 homes, as it steadily moves toward expanding renewable energy production and reducing carbon emissions by 90 percent over the next two decades.
Consumers still needs Michigan Public Service Commission approval and the city of Cadillac must complete clean-up efforts at the proposed site of the solar plant — the Mitchell-Bentley property, a vacant site with a manufacturing history dating back to the late 19th Century. Earlier this week, the Cadillac City Council approved the plan.
“This is a wonderful example of a collaboration between the public and private sectors, all for the good of our community,” Marcus Peccia, Cadillac city manager, said in a statement. “We have an opportunity to clean up a blighted brownfield site, and residents will be able to connect to a renewable energy source right here in our backyard.”
The Cadillac solar plant could go into service in early 2020 if the commission approves the plan and the site is cleaned up. Consumers did not have cost information yet on the project.
It would be part of Consumers’ Solar Gardens community solar program, joining projects at Grand Valley State University and Western Michigan University. With the Cadillac plan up an running, 900 homes would be powered by solar-generated electricity as part of the program.
Consumers’ last solar energy project was in 2016, a 1-megawatt solar array at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.
Under Solar Gardens, customers who enroll in Solar Gardens pay about $10 extra a month to support solar projects and receive bill credits based on electricity that’s generated. Solar Gardens is more than 90 percent subscribed, a company official said.
Over the past several years, Consumers Energy has closed seven coal-fired power plants and is expanding its renewable energy sources to hit 40 percent clean energy by 2040.
“Consumers Energy is taking a stand for our planet with our Clean Energy Plan that includes over 40 percent of our energy coming from renewable sources,” said Brian Rich, Consumers Energy’s senior vice president for customer experience. “We are excited to pursue a project that should be good for a community we serve and Michigan’s clean energy future.”
Consumers (NYSE: CMS) provides natural gas and electricity to 6.7 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.