CADILLAC — Consumers Energy has unveiled a new “brownfield to brightfield” solar project that converted formerly abandoned industrial property into a clean energy power source.
On Monday, the Jackson-based utility announced its Cadillac Solar Gardens project, a nearly 500-kilowatt “community solar” installation with battery storage that’s available to Consumers customers by subscription.
“Cadillac Solar Gardens represents yet another bold step in our efforts to lead the clean energy transformation,” Lauren Youngdahl Snyder, Consumers Energy’s vice president for customer experience, said in a statement. “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.”
The Cadillac project models similar Consumers Energy community solar installations at Grand Valley State University and Western Michigan University.
However, this is the utility’s first project to transform a blighted industrial property into a renewable energy generating site, which state officials said “marries two … important strategies.”
“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 Mi Healthy Climate plan goal of statewide carbon neutrality by 2050,” Liesl Clark, director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), said in a statement.
The former Mitchell-Bentley auto manufacturing site has sat vacant since the late 1980s, while industrial uses of the property date back to the late 1800s.
Clean energy advocates have touted the Cadillac project, which has been years in the making, as a model for future development if funding mechanisms can align. The state’s brownfield redevelopment program contributed $1 million in grants and loans to support the solar project.
Cadillac Mayor Carla Filkins called the completion of the Consumers Energy project a “milestone” for the city “and the entire state.”
“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,” Filkins said in a statement.
The Cadillac installation is also the latest project in the investor-owned utility’s planned large-scale solar build-out. Consumers Energy’s updated Clean Energy Plan now under consideration by the Michigan Public Service Commission calls for adding nearly 8,000 megawatts of solar by 2040. The utility expects 1,100 MW of utility-scale solar to come online by 2024.