JACKSON, Mich. (WOOD) — Consumers Energy has announced it is looking for landowners and communities to partner on solar power plants.
It’s one of the key focal points of the utility company’s Clean Energy Plan, which plans to add 8,000 megawatts of solar energy to the power grid, pull more than 60% of its electric capacity from renewable resources and be carbon neutral by 2040.
“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,” Dennis Dobbs, Consumers Energy vice president of enterprise project management and environmental services, said in a release. “Harnessing the sun is Michigan’s moonshot — and we won’t achieve this historic goal without help.”
In total, Consumers is looking to find between 500 to 900 acres for development. The utility identified three types of locations that make the most sense for the company and partners: publicly owned property, brownfield sites and farm fields.
In a news release, Dobbs touted the benefits of solar farming for communities and landowners, noting that the solar farms would be a source of ongoing revenue and would create hundreds of construction and maintenance jobs.
“Our goal is to meet Michigan’s property owners and communities where they are to start a conversation about mutually beneficial solar solutions,” Dobbs said.
Economic benefits aside, the focus of the Clean Energy Plan is the environment. Solar energy has become more cost-effective and reliable in recent years, and experts at Consumers estimate the company’s Clean Energy Plan would cut carbon dioxide emissions by more than 63 million tons.
Consumers Energy’s Clean Energy Plan still needs formal approval from the Michigan Public Service Commission. An earlier draft of the plan was slowed down by a judge who had concerns about the company’s plan to shut down its coal plants in exchange for more natural gas plants. In the latest plan, Consumers would only add one natural gas plant instead of four and would boost its solar output.