Wednesday, May 15, 2013

NEWS RELEASE (Michigan) - Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association Awarded Community Solar Gardens Grant


April 19, 2013
Contact: David Konkle
Project Director
Cell: 734 323-2828

Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association Awarded Community Solar Gardens Grant

The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association (GLREA) has been awarded a grant from the Michigan Energy Office, Renewable Energy Demonstration Program to perform a Community Solar PV Garden Feasibility Study.   The final report will be due in September, 2013.
It has been estimated that less than half of the homes and businesses in Michigan are good sites for solar energy due to shading or roof orientation.  Renters and condo owners do not own property that can be used for solar installations.  Also, solar energy systems often require a large upfront cost that makes it difficult for many homeowners, institutions, or businesses to get involved.   Dave Konkle, Project Director for GLREA stated, “Community Solar may be a solution to all these barriers.  It is a very new concept in the US that is getting a great deal of attention, with many states researching barriers and introducing appropriate legislation to enable Community Solar projects for interested citizens.”
Community Solar is defined as a solar electric or renewable energy system that has multiple owners or shareholders that receive some benefit because of their investment in the project.  With Community Solar, the actual generation of renewable energy does not occur at the customer’s site.  Instead, the customer subscribes to a portion of a shared facility (much like a resident may rent a plot in a community garden) and the power generated results in the subscriber receiving their portion of the benefit based on their investment.  By building a larger scale system in an optimal sunny location, the cost to the investor can be lower, and the benefits higher, than the typical residential or small commercial installation.

The GLREA grant project will research and analyze various system ownership and financing models for Community Solar projects.  GLREA will partner with Shepherd Advisors to conduct a targeted nationwide survey to identify best practices. A Michigan survey will be conducted to provide estimates of the installed cost of solar PV and the value of the solar energy produced. The project will identify barriers and opportunities and research factors relevant to Community Solar including “buy Michigan preferences,” net metering, and renewable energy certificates.  GLREA will collaborate with the Michigan Public Service Commission, Michigan Energy Office, Michigan utilities, local governments, and interested parties to obtain input and feedback during the project.

As part of the project, GLREA will hold a number of public forums to inform attendees about the potential of Community Solar and obtain feedback on support and ideas for Community Solar in Michigan.  Events are already planned for Lansing in May and at the GLREA’s “Michigan Energy Fair” in Ludington on June 7th and 8th. 

A detailed technical report/feasibility study. GLREA will compile a wealth of valuable information, including best practices, system and financing models, barriers and opportunities, and other key factors. This project will enable a variety of interested parties to develop the best possible Community Solar projects in Michigan.

More information on the upcoming Community Solar forums, the Michigan Energy Fair, and updated news items about Community Solar in Michigan can be found at the GLREA website at


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