Local

Solar energy company eyes Lapeer County

By Dave Fredrick - Sanilac Broadcasting

It’s no secret the Thumb Region has been a hot-bed for wind energy, especially in the Upper Thumb area.

Many communities have fought back against wind developers, opening the door for alternative sources, including solar energy.

While many areas have been explored for potential solar projects, a California firm is considering such a project in northern Lapeer County.

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Officials in Goodland Township, north of Imlay City are learning of a proposed 100-megawatt solar farm that could mean as many as 200 new jobs during the construction phase, if it is approved.

The location of the proposed site is in the area of Kohler Road and Bowers Road with the developer currently in the process of securing leases.

Officials say as an incentive, farmers who sign a lease with the company will receive income for 30 years when the project is complete, an agreement that is similar to the agreement wind companies have with farmers who have turbines on their property.

The solar project would bring approximately $100 Million in private investment to the township and Lapeer County, according to development officials.

During the first year of operations, the solar company would pay over $750,000 in property taxes, and contribute more than $8 Million in property taxes during the first 25 years of operation, according to company officials.

When that is complete, the next step would be seeking approval of a site plan from Goodland Township.

The proposed Goodland Solar Project is a 100-megawatt solar farm. The project will have an immediate significant positive economic impact on the Township and and the county.

The Orion Renewable Energy Group’s solar project will bring approximately $100 Million in private investment to the township and Lapeer County.

During the first year of operations, the solar company will pay over $750,000 in property taxes, and will contribute more than $8 Million in property taxes during the first 25 years of operation.

Company officials say once the site is operational, it would create several new full-time, well-paying local jobs for the ongoing operation and maintenance of the solar farm.

Because not every area has enough wind for turbines to operate, alternative energy sources are being considered.  Several years ago, the Michigan Wind Energy Resource Zone Board conducted a study on wind energy.

The study, which reported Lapeer County did not show potential for wind development, ranked Michigan 14th in the U.S. for wind energy potential.

WERZ identified four regions as having the highest potential for wind energy and potential wind energy development in Tuscola County including 12 townships such as Akron, Elkland, Elmwood, Fairgrove and Wisner.

In Huron County, the study showed 26 townships including Bingham, Colfax, Oliver, Sherman and Port Austin could support wind energy development. Both counties currently have several wind projects in operation.

Orion Renewable Energy is also moving forward with construction of a 90-megawatt solar project in northern Michigan that was scheduled to be constructed this year.

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