Saturday, June 29, 2013

Flint-area GM facilities partner with Consumers Energy to install solar electricity generators

FLINT, MI -- General Motors will continue its drive into the green energy landscape after agreeing to install $1 million in of electricity-generating solar systems as part of a partnership with Consumers Energy.
Two GM plants, the Flint South Complex and Flint-Swartz Creek plant, were selected Friday, June 28, to participate in Consumer Energy's Experimental Advanced Renewables Program, according to utility company officials.
The program aims to expand the utility company's green-energy portfolio, an increasingly important prospect as federal guidelines will require at least 10 percent of the company's electricity generation to include renewable energy, according to Consumers Energy representative Brian Wheeler.
For GM, the project will allow the company to reinforce its commitment to the green energy movement already highlighted with its introduction of the Chevrolet Volt and increased mile-per-gallon ratings on new vehicles, said GM Renewable Energy Manager Rob Threlkeld.
Threlkeld said one 150-kilowatt solar system will be installed at ground level at each of the selected sites. They are expected to be installed and operating by the first quarter of 2014.
Wheeler said Consumers reached a 15-year agreement with GM to purchase the electricity generated by the solar systems. He added that the systems are financed by GM.
Threlkeld said that while GM is footing the cost of the project, the company would be open to a potential joint-funding endeavor with the utility company.
This isn't GM's first foray into renewable-energy generation.
"We've got about 70 megawatts in green energy," Threlkeld said.
However, this is GM's first partnership with Consumers. Threlkeld said the company is hopeful the two Genesee County projects will be successful and encourage future partnerships at other GM facilities in Consumers' service area.
GM was one of two businesses selected to participate in the Consumers Energy program. Gratiot County's Courter Farms Land LLC was the second.
Nine residential customers in Barry, Benzie, Calhoun, Eaton, Gratiot, Ionia, Jackson, Kalamazoo and Newaygo counties were also selected to participate in the program.
Consumers will host an information session on customer-installed solar energy systems from 5:30-8:30 p.m. July 11 at the Harding Mott University Center on the University of Michigan-Flint campus.