Marquette Board of Light and Power begins plans for Solar Garden

Published: Jun. 28, 2016 at 8:47 PM EDT
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With increasing public interest in solar energy, the Marquette Board of Light and Power has begun the process of creating a Community Solar Garden. When completed, the it will allow customers to purchase solar panels from the garden to power their homes and businesses. Solar gardens are often utilized by those who want to install solar energy on their property, but don't have the space in their yard or their roof oriented in the right direction.

Tuesday evening, the board started to discuss the financial side of building a solar garden with a presentation by Chris Lund of Utility Financial Solutions.

"Today's presentation was our starting point," said Tom Tourville, the Marquette BLP Board Chairman. "It was the first step in understanding the financial analysis of renewable energy, particularly solar, in our area. We received a report from our consultant that did a straight-forward business calculation on the value of solar energy to the utility."

Several different cost implementation methods were presented by the consultant, including a net metering with additional monthly charge option. One attendee, who already has solar energy at his home, spoke up about that option during public comment.

"If the proponent's net metering rates recommended in this UFS report are adopted, we will actually be penalized for having a solar panel by having to pay an additional monthly charge. We would have to pay $53 for the pleasure of generating all of our own electricity."

No decisions were made at the meeting on Tuesday, and the board insists decisions regarding the solar garden project will not be made in haste.

"The board of light and power is going to take our time, we're going to go slow, and we're going to gather lots of community input," said Tourville. "We want to arrive at a long-term, viable solution for renewable energy resources that fits our community as well as this utility."

Another meeting is planned for 6 p.m. eastern time Monday night at Northern Michigan University to discuss the solar garden and metering process more thoroughly.