Visitors to the Parkview campus and passersby along US-131 with a view of Floyd Hall may wonder what’s going on in the grass. Consumers Energy is constructing a “solar garden” on 9 acres of land adjacent to the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Consumers Energy and WMU worked out a 25-year lease agreement last year. Once up and running, the solar array will be able to produce up to 1 megawatt of electricity -- enough to power about 200 homes.
The installation of nearly 4,000 solar panels is expected to be done by the end of summer. “We will likely be producing power by mid-August,” said John Seelman, WMU’s director of engineering.
The electricity produced will be distributed to the “grid” and made available to Consumers Energy customers who want to purchase it.
He said the solar project ties in well with WMU’s desire to be more sustainable. “In addition, we are working to minimize impacts to the existing prairie grass and wildlife found on campus,” he said. “Another priority is to continue to be a good neighbor to those in the BTR Park and the adjoining neighborhood.”
The solar array is one of the first large-scale solar projects Consumers Energy is building throughout Michigan. Under state law, Michigan utilities must obtain 10 percent of their energy from renewable sources.