Consumers celebrates launch of new, 500,000 watt solar plant Cadillac Solar Gardens

Published on July 21, 2021 by Chris Galford

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Solar is breathing new life into vacant old sites in Michigan this week, with the announcement from Consumers Energy that its Cadillac Solar Gardens has begun operations on a former brownfield site.

The Cadillac facility will generate nearly half a megawatt of electricity, or 500,000 watts, providing enough power to support up to 100 homes simultaneously. It consists of 1,752 solar panels and also hosts a battery storage system for reliability. It is Consumers’ third solar power plant in Michigan.

“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. “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.”

Before the construction of the Solar Gardens, the brownfield location had been vacant for more than 30 years, following the closure of an auto manufacturer based there. Now, it is the latest addition to Consumers’ Solar Gardens community solar program, where enrolled customers can pay as little as $10 a month to support solar projects and receive bill credits based on what’s generated.

“This project marries two of Michigan EGLE’s important strategies,” Liesl Clark, director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), said. “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 Governor Whitmer’s Mi Healthy Climate plan goal of statewide carbon neutrality by 2050.”

While removing blight, the Cadillac Solar Gardens facility will also play a role in Consumers Energy’s updated Clean Energy Plan. That plan calls for using nearly 8,000 MW of solar energy by 2040, eliminating coal use by 2025, and reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2040. All the while, it hopes to save customers $650 million over the same period.