First community solar park rising up in East Lansing

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Construction of Mid-Michigan’s first community solar park is officially underway in East Lansing.

“It’s been awhile coming,” says John Kinch, Executive Director for Michigan Energy Options. “We’re really pleased to be building the first community solar park in this region in the state of Michigan.”

The first few of what will be 1000, 300-watt solar panels will get installed at Burcham Park by the end of the week. When finished, the solar park will produce a 300-kilowatt solar panel system for community use.

“Community solar, as a whole, is really starting to take hold in the country,” says Jeff Mathie, CEO of Patriot Solar Group. He partnered with Lansing Board of Water & Light, the City of East Lansing and Michigan Energy Options to get this project going. Mathie believes thousands of people want to use solar energy, but either rent or can’t afford to install solar panels on their home. He says this project connects wannabe solar customers to the grid.

“Community solar is good access for people to get into solar that maybe can’t.”

Here’s how it works: BWL customers can lease a solar panel by signing a 25-year agreement and paying a one-time fee of $399.  It may seem like a steep start-up cost, but Kinch says, energy savings thanks to the sun will soon crest over the horizon.

“You can expect to have a $25 return at the end of the year, which translates to about 10 to 12 years out you’ll have the panel paid for. The contract is for 25 years, so after that you will be getting free energy, so to speak.”

BWL officials say when the East Lansing community solar park is finished, they plan to build a second community solar park next to their water treatment plant located on Wise Road in Lansing.

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