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Wyandotte Unveils State's Largest Municipally-Owned Solar Energy Project

Federal officials praise Wyandotte's system, which generates as much power as 50 houses.

Wyandotte's newly revealed community solar garden is as green as it gets.

employees hosted U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-15th District) and an array of local, state and federal leaders at a Wednesday dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the Wyandotte solar photovoltaic project.

The project includes 884 solar photovoltaic modules, most of which are located atop the roof of the city’s water settling basin building. A smaller “garden” is located next to the municipal services facility near the north end of .

The total capacity includes a 212.16 kilowatt system that generates the equivalent power supply of 50 average-sized houses.

Dingell commended Wyandotte Mayor Joseph Peterson and the “green” team who worked on the project.

“First, this is the largest municipally-owned solar array in the state of Michigan,” Dingell said. “And, we know these things do work.”

He noted the teamwork of the Wyandotte Municipal Services employees working with the mayor and council.

“Wyandotte is wonderful and continues moving forward,” Dingell said. “All the solar panels were made here in the USA which results in jobs.”  

Dingell also discussed the importance of federal energy grants like the one that made this project possible. He said he fully supports energy grant funding for cities like Wyandotte now and in the future.

Kerry Duggan, director of legislative, regulatory and urban affairs for the U.S. Department of Energy, also was on hand for the event.

“It is interesting to view the solar array with the Wyandotte Municipal Services facility in the background,” Duggan said. “It really shows how far the city of Wyandotte has come in its efforts toward renewable energy.”

When sunlight strikes a solar PV (photovoltaic) solar module, the energy of absorbed light is transferred into electrons in the atoms of the solar cells. These electrons escape from the PV material and become part of a DC electrical current. The electricity then travels through wires to an inverter that converts the DC current to an AC current, which provides electricity.

The project cost more than $600,000 and was fully funded with federal grant dollars, according to Pamela Tierney, energy systems program manager for Wyandotte Municipal Services.

The project began with a competitive bidding process in September. The city received bids from 11 companies with more than 20 different scenarios that had to be reviewed. The contract was awarded to Novi-based NOVA Consultants Inc. in October. The installation of the solar panels began in November and was complete in December. The project was commissioned in January.

“The solar panels will absorb sunlight throughout the year,” said Thomas Neelands, NOVA's project manager for energy. “Dependant on the season and proximity to the sun, certain times of the year will generate more kilowatts than others.”

The photovoltaic panels are similar to the ones installed on the roof of in 2008. That 10-kilowatt system supplies solar power to the building and creates an environmental learning opportunity for students. A web page also has been created as part of the project to display the total amount of energy produced each day at the school.

Jim French, Wyandotte Municipal Services' assistant general manager, said the latest venture is one of many projects his department is working on to bring the city into compliance with governmental mandates which require utility companies to generate at least 10 percent renewable energy by 2015. Other projects include a landfill gas renewable energy project partnership with multiple utilities and future hydro and wind projects, he said.

“The best thing Wyandotte residents can do to help us in our efforts is to participate in our neighborhood challenge in Wyandotte,” French said. “We need participation from the community to complete more than 2,000 energy audits in the city. If we meet the challenge, we could receive additional solar arrays.”

Residents are entitled to to improve energy efficiency for homes and businesses. To schedule an appointment, call 855-674-9926.

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Doug Melzer May 26, 2012 at 03:00 AM
After we are done congratulating ourselves for borrowing $600,000 from China to fund this solar array, we should realize the Federal Government that "gave" us this grant is the same government that is shaking down Wyandotte for over $10million to make our coal-fired power plant comply with their ridiculously excessive regulations. Other than these types of demonstration projects, current technology will not allow solar energy to provide any kind of economic or realistic alternative to coal or other fossil fuels in the near future, especially at night as I write this comment. I'm sure solar power makes folks some feel good but it's no substitute for good old coal. And when you get upset the next time Municipal Service raises electric rates, channel your outrage at folks like Congressman Dingell, who smiled when he gave us the check for $600,000, knowing full well that his his EPA colleagues took $10million out of our wallets.
Gerald Heath May 26, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Wow. 12,081 houses in Wyandotte and this will power up to 50 of them, .4%. With an average electric bill of $100.00 each household should see a $0.40 decrease in their monthly electric bill. I know that seems small, but that's $4.80 a year. Think of the spending boom that will create. I hope Wyandotte cashed the check before Dingell drooled all over it.
Hugh McDiarmid, Jr. August 27, 2012 at 02:47 PM
This is a positive step toward helping replace the electric generation of an aging plant whose first unit was built in 1948. "Good old coal" must be imported from other states -- $1.5 billion annually that leaves Michigan's economy never to return. Some of that money will now stay in Wyandotte, since the "fuel" for the solar cells is free. As for cost, your electric rates are going up because the prices of "good old coal" delivered to Mcihigan has gone up 71% in just five years ... not to mention the significant cost of health damages from pollutants that are not included in our rates. It's true that solar won't replace coal. But it can be a significant part of a new energy mix that doesn't hold us hostage to coal price spikes and force us to send our money to support non-Michigan industries.
Web Spin August 29, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Hugh, do you just make up facts to support your line? Coal and natural gas are both hale what they were 5 years ago. Hear of a little thing called hydraulic fracturing? The gas companies have found so much gas this way that the prices have plunged to below production cost. Your argument about "Good old coal" must be imported from other states" ignores the fact that these same solar panels are also made outside Michigan and at best they'll last 20 years (a number I seriously doubt since nothing mechanical I own has lasted that long).

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