Experimental Advanced Renewable Program begins in Saginaw - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Experimental Advanced Renewable Program begins in Saginaw

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(12/06/12) - The city of Saginaw is now producing electricity with a recently installed solar array on the roof of its public services building.

The solar products used in the project come from two Mid-Michigan companies, and a third company, which still has intentions on having a facility in Saginaw County. If it's built, hundreds of jobs could come with it.

The ribbon was cut inside Saginaw City Hall for the completion of a solar array on the building across the street. Consumers Energy chose Saginaw for the 'Experimental Advanced Renewable Program'.

Consumers will buy the electricity from the city.

"We estimate over the 15 years, they will pay us $92,000," said Phil Karwatt, Saginaw City engineer.

The city paid for the solar system with grant money and a loan. It's another step in attempt to make the Great Lakes Bay Region a solar hotspot.

"What we are trying to do as a city is to embrace solar, so the city is taking steps to make solar installation easier for both residents and commercial users by streamlining the permit process," said JoAnn Crary, of Saginaw Future.

The solar array is made of products from Hemlock Semiconductor, Nexteer and Suniva.

"The Saginaw area and the community here has been visionary in its adoption of solar technology," said Matt Card, of Suniva.

Suniva announced in 2009 it intended to build a solar manufacturing facility in Saginaw County.

"All of our decisions on manufacturing are based on market conditions. The last two years have been extremely volatile in the solar industry," Card said.

So far, no construction, but Card says the Thomas Township site is still a possibility when the company expands.

"We have extended our option for the Thomas Township property, we've made no decision, it is premature at this point to announce a plan on when or if construction will begin," he said.

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