Large scale solar energy farm coming to Shiawassee County

Published: Jan. 23, 2019 at 11:57 PM EST
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(01/23/2019) - It was standing room only in Shiawassee County, as county planners decided the fate of a large scale solar project across two townships.

The proposal, by Ranger Power, a Brooklyn-based solar energy developer, would install solar panels on more than 12-hundred acres of farm fields in Hazelton and Venice Townships.

The Shiawassee County Planning Commission voted unanimously 5-to-0 (with 1 member recusing himself) to approve the request for this large development by Ranger Power on rural land in Shiawassee County.

The solar farm would be built on the 1,245 acres they have under land agreement near the power substation on Wilkinson Road, along the Genesee Shiawassee border.

Director of Environmental Permitting, Sergio Trevino, explained why he thinks this is a good fit:

"We've got established land that is good for this kind of resource, it's going to generate 20 to 25 million dollars worth of revenue for the County , it's very compatible with agricultural uses, the land will be allowed to lie fallow for several years," Trevino said,"we see a lot of benefits for the County."

After making his pitch to the planning commission, those in favor, and those opposed to constructing a solar energy farm on the land addressed the planning commission.

"They want to be with us," said Justin Horvath, with the Economic Partnership, "they want to be here for a long time, they want to do things where they're not harming the neighbors next door."

Not everyone supports the idea of installing solar panels on agricultural land:

"Thousands of toxic solar panels," one of the speakers remarked to the board, "will be placed in open farm land over the course of this project. Solar panels are known to cause degradation to soil, ground, wells, and watersheds."

Trevino said they will be using Crystalline silicon panels which do not have cadmium. They also have a statement from DuPont that says there are no PFAS chemicals in the solar panels they will be using.

They hope to begin construction by late 2019, promising to add 300 temporary jobs,

As for who is going to buy their energy, he said the MPPA will be purchasing about 50 megawatts of their energy, and they will continue to market the rest of the project capacity in the hopes of entering into more contracts over the next several weeks and months.

Once operational, Trevinso said the project would generate enough power to supply energy for approximately 35-thousand Michigan homes a year.

The life of the project is forty years.