- The Lansing Board of Water and Light (BWL), Michigan’s largest municipally owned utility, has issued a request for proposals (RFP) on five megawatts of solar as it follows through on plans to retire its aging coal plants over the next five years and prepares to meet the increased renewables mandate expected in Michigan next year.
- The RFP, driven by falling solar prices and solar’s now demonstrated ability to meet summer peak demand, does not specify a system size and calls for up to a single five megawatt community solar installation that would be more than five times the size of Michigan’s current biggest solar project, a DTE Energy-owned 818 kilowatt array, and only the state’s third community solar installation.
- The Lansing BWL, which presently owns 2 solar installations totaling 553 kilowatts, expects the developer or developers chosen in the competitive bidding process to leverage the power purchase agreement(s) to finance development. The PPA price will be determined in the proposal process.
A recent poll by the City of East Lansing, the BWL’s service area, showed strong citizen willingness to invest in community solar.
A Michigan Public Service Commission report estimated the state had an installed solar capacity of 22.6 megawatts, owned by utility customers or utilities, at the end of 2013. The Michigan Municipal Electric Association recently predicted solar’s falling cost would lead to an increase in the state’s installation activity.
Michigan's major investor-owned utilities have been slow to expand their solar programs because, they argue, the costs will be shifted to non-solar-owning customers. But both Consumers Energy and DTE Energy, Michigan’s dominant IOUs, recently indicated interest in community solar projects in which customers buy portions of the generation and get bill credits in proportion to their ownership.