As Michigan aims to achieve economy-wide carbon neutrality by 2050, with intermediate goals for 2030, the state’s largest utility is working to shift its energy sources to renewable energies.
Consumers Energy is seeking partnerships with landowners and communities for the installation of large-scale solar panels.
Dennis Dobbs, vice president of corporate project management and environmental services for Consumers Energy, noted that they have already started adding 1,100 megawatts of solar capacity to be ready by 2024.
“A typical large-scale solar power plant, which is the most cost-effective way to provide solar power, will be between 100 and 150 megawatts,” Dobbs explained. “And that’s going to take – just for one plant – about 500 to 1,000 acres. And so we’re going to need quite a bit of land.”
Dobbs pointed out that the best prospects for land for solar power plants are flat, open, relatively tree-free and accessible to sunlight. The plots could include agricultural fields – especially those that are not ideal for growing crops – brownfields or public properties.
Dobbs added that the solar effort is part of the utility’s proposed clean energy plan, which would reduce carbon emissions by more than 63 million tons.
“We need landowners who are interested in solar power and actually getting some of the benefits of solar power,” Dobbs pointed out. “And then local communities and leaders who really want solar power to be part of their communities, and then reap the benefits that come with it.”
He pointed out that solar energy brings economic benefits to landowners and local communities. Landowners can enter into long-term easement agreements with the company to create an ongoing revenue stream, and solar power plants create hundreds of construction jobs.
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