- Consumers Energy, Rockford Construction and officials from Grand Rapids, Mich., announced this week a project to create a renewable energy district in a 10-block region west of the city's downtown.
- The project will connect solar panels on new roofs with a battery project that media outlets report is being considered for development at a cell tower site near Rockford's headquarters.
- It is the second renewable announcement from the Michigan utility this month. Consumers revealed it has broken ground last week on its third wind energy project, Cross Winds Energy Park II in Tuscola County.
The solar panels will generate a modest amount of energy, up to 1 MW, but the renewable energy district will provide a range of benefits according to Consumers Energy. WOOD Radio reports the project will lower energy bills, provide electric vehicle charging, test renewable technologies, and provide for improved communications bandwidth.
“Because we have the opportunity to produce power right here ... it allows us to really bring less expensive power into the neighborhood," Rockford Construction CEO Mike VanGessel said at a news conference unveiling the project.
He added the Circuit West project would also provide more resilient power to residents, "because this is a redundant system in effect with the solar energy, with the battery system that we’re going to create here."
Construction on the second phase of Cross Winds Energy Park is expected to be complete by the end of the year, and in service in early 2018. The utility said plans for the third phase of construction have been approved and is expected to go into commercial operation in 2020.