Consumers Energy Opens 8 Solar Energy Sites, Wind Farm

Jackson-based Consumers Energy announced five new solar projects in Genesee County (Flint area) and three in Saginaw County are now online and providing electricity to Consumers customers.
wind turbine being built
Consumers Energy has opened eight solar energy sites and the Gratiot Farms Wind Project. Pictured is a wind turbine being built. // Image courtesy of Consumers Energy

Jackson-based Consumers Energy announced five new solar projects in Genesee County (Flint area) and three in Saginaw County are now online and providing electricity to Consumers customers.

The sites were built and are operated by North Carolina-based Pine Gate Renewables and are owned by Los Angeles-based Kayne Anderson. Consumers has 20-year agreements to purchase the energy from the projects. Each solar farm has a 2-megawatt capacity.

The additional 16 megawatts generated by the farms add to Consumers’ 10 megawatts of solar energy capacity previously available. They include 56,313 solar panels and have employed about 240 local construction workers.

The names of the local solar projects, which began operations in the last five weeks, are Captain Solar, Interchange Solar, Jack Francis Solar, May Shannon Solar, and Coldwater Solar in Genesee County; and Geddes 1 Solar, Geddes 2 Solar, and Stoneheart Solar in Saginaw County.

“We’re excited to be a part of developing renewable energy in Michigan,” says Ben Catt, CEO of Pine Gate Renewables. “Each solar project provides tax revenue, jobs, and clean energy to the local communities.”

The company also has agreements to purchase energy from six additional Kayne Anderson solar projects elsewhere in Michigan. These projects are scheduled to begin operating this month.

“Becoming a leader in solar energy has been an important focus of Kayne Anderson over the last several years,” says Jon Levinson, co-head of renewables at Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors. “We are very pleased to have brought this initial wave of projects to completion in Michigan, and we are very excited about the continued build-out of our solar footprint over the next several years.”

In related news, Consumers Energy also announced the Gratiot Farms Wind Project in Gratiot County (north of Lansing, contains Alma) is operational and contributing 150 megawatts of renewable energy to customers.

“We are excited to have completed construction and bring Gratiot Farms online to serve customers,” says Dennis Dobbs, vice president of enterprise project management, engineering and services for Consumers Energy. “Each kilowatt we generate from renewable sources such as the wind gets us closer to our Clean Energy Plan goal of a net-zero carbon energy future. We are committed to be good neighbors in Gratiot County, where our project is providing substantial local tax revenue and well-paying jobs.”

The farm went online Dec. 16 and features 60 turbines that generate power for about 58,000 residents. Consumers acquired the project from Enel Green Power America, which has its U.S. headquarters in Massachusetts and started development of the farm. Consumers took ownership and responsibility for completing construction in September 2019.

About 250 workers were employed during construction. A team of 10 full-time employees will operate the facility from a newly established service center, expected to be complete by late February, in Middleton (north of Lansing).

Gratiot Farms represents a $260 million investment in Michigan’s clean energy infrastructure. Consumers also owns and operates Lake Winds Energy Park in Mason County (north of Muskegon) and Cross Winds Energy Park in Tuscola County (east of Saginaw). Combined, the three parks produce enough clean, renewable energy to provide power to about 185,600 residents.

For a virtual tour of what goes into constructing a large-scale wind farm, click here.

Consumers Energy’s Clean Energy Plan calls for eliminating coal as an energy source, achieving net-zero carbon emissions, and meeting 90 percent of customers’ energy needs through clean sources such as renewable energy, energy waste reduction, and energy storage.

Consumers provides natural gas and/or electricity to 6.7 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.