Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Department of Energy Grant Will Convert Michigan Rest Stops to Solar Power

While some politicians have made the Dept. of Energy a convenient target as of late, always keep in mind that this "government spending" is creating Michigan jobs for Michigan businesses, not only by providing loans and grants to renewable energy companies and the auto industry, but by little projects like this that will save taxpayer money on energy costs.


The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) today announced that Cascade Renewable Energy of Grand Rapids has been awarded a contract to develop and install technology to convert solar energy into electricity at three MDOT rest area facilities. The projects, two in the Upper Peninsula and one in southeast Michigan, will use three separate, grid-connected solar systems to lower overall energy costs while demonstrating the feasibility and benefit of photovoltaic (PV) energy generation. The project is 100 percent federally funded with a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, administered by MDOT and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

The rest area projects are slated for St. Ignace (Mackinac County) at southbound I-75; Chelsea (Washtenaw County) at eastbound I-94, and Seney (Schoolcraft County) at M-28. An added feature at each rest area will be a lobby kiosk that will display real-time information about energy savings. Two of the rest areas will have ground-mounted solar energy systems capable of generating approximately 10 kW, with a third capable of generating approximately 16kW. All three projects are on a fast track; construction is scheduled to begin in mid-September with completion by the end of November. The Seney rest area project will save $1,440 annually in energy costs, while the St. Ignace rest area project will save $980 annually. The Chelsea rest area project will save $1,955 in energy costs annually. Combined, the three projects will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 tons annually.

You may look at that and think the savings are small, but imagine if we converted all the rest stops over to this technology over the next few years. It really adds up. And it's creating jobs for Cascade Engineering and other companies at the same time.

There are thousands of DOE projects like this, providing jobs and savings all over the country, something that the demagogues like to ignore. Just know they are out there, and we benefit from them in more ways than one.

Back to you, Fred.