CADILLAC — Cadillac is home to the latest green energy initiative by the state's largest utility provider, Consumers Energy.
Following the release of the company’s updated Clean Energy Plan, leaders from Consumers Energy, the state of Michigan and the city of Cadillac on Monday dedicated the company’s third solar power plant, Cadillac Solar Gardens.
“Cadillac Solar Gardens represents yet another bold step in our efforts to lead the clean energy transformation,‘ said Lauren Youngdahl Snyder, Consumers Energy’s vice president for customer experience. “As Consumers Energy’s first Brownfield to Brightfield project and our third solar power plant, this project will help us protect our planet, spur economic development in this community, and allow us to provide cleaner, more reliable energy across the state. It also builds on our strong and ongoing commitment to providing low-cost solar energy to our customers. Bottom line — it’s a win-win for all involved.‘
Cadillac Solar Gardens will generate nearly half a megawatt of electricity, enough to power as many as 100 homes at a time. The site has 1,752 panels and includes a battery storage system. The Cadillac Solar Gardens site is a repurposed brownfield land with a manufacturing history that dates to the late 1800s. Before the solar power plant, the site had been vacant for more than 30 years after the closure of an auto manufacturer.
“This project marries two of Michigan EGLE’s important strategies,‘ said Liesl Clark, director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. “It puts a formerly vacant, contaminated property back into productive use and onto local tax rolls, improves air quality, and moves Michigan closer to meeting Gov. Whitmer’s Michigan Healthy Climate plan goal of statewide carbon neutrality by 2050.‘
“Today marks a major milestone for the city of Cadillac and the entire state as we celebrate the dedication of Consumers Energy’s Cadillac Solar Gardens,‘ said Carla Filkins, the mayor of Cadillac. “We’ve come together to turn a blighted brownfield property into a site that will play a key role in Michigan’s clean energy transformation and help better protect our environment for generations to come.‘
Consumers Energy also operates solar power plants at Grand Valley State University and Western Michigan University. Those two locations generate enough power to serve more than 800 homes at a time.
The company’s three solar locations are part of the Solar Gardens community solar program. Consumers Energy customers enrolled in Solar Gardens pay as little as $10 a month to support solar projects and receive bill credits based on electricity that’s generated. Learn more at www.ConsumersEnergy.com/solargardens.
Each year, Consumers Energy is adding more clean, renewable, solar-generated electricity for Michigan with plans for 1,100 megawatts of utility-scale solar to come online between 2022 and 2024. The company’s solar ramp-up will continue throughout the coming decade. Consumers Energy's goal is that by 2040, clean, renewable fuel sources such as solar and wind will comprise more than 60% of the company’s electric capacity.
The Clean Energy Plan proposes using nearly 8,000 megawatts of solar energy by 2040, ending the use of coal by 2025, achieving net zero carbon emissions and saving customers $650 million through 2040.
According to a press release from Consumers Energy, in addition to its environmental benefits, solar is increasingly cost competitive with other fuel sources. Consumers Energy can also add solar gradually, providing flexibility to respond to emerging needs, adapt to changing conditions and embrace new technology — without having to build a large, new fossil fuel power plant.