KALAMAZOO COUNTY, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - If you drive along US-131 south of Stadium Drive, you’ve probably noticed a large group of solar panels.
It’s an 8 1/2-acre garden of a different variety.
The massive solar garden at WMU’s engineering campus is a new way to generate power for the area. It will help West Michigan students study the new technology and anyone can buy in.
"You are looking at a megawatt worth of solar panels. That's almost 4,000 panels and this will power almost 200 homes,” said Emily Warners, Consumer’s solar garden project manager.
The solar garden at WMU just went online last week and it's making a pretty big dent in the usage at the university.
"Some parts of the day this might power most all the all the electrical needs for the massive engineering building we have right behind you. And some days it might only power 20 percent. Depending upon the demand, the sun and all those characteristics,” said Peter Strazdas, the Associate VP of Facilities Management at WMU.
The 4,000 panels are a partnership between Consumer’s energy and WMU.
It’s the second one of its kind in the state and power isn't the only thing they will generate. Education and jobs will come along too.
"Here we are on the engineering campus and we have students studying electrical engineering and this 1 megawatt solar garden is in their backyard. They will be seeing the data come out live. They'll be studying the data,” said Strazdas.
This is all part of Consumer's program that allows customers to buy space at a solar garden like this for a credit on their bill.
"You do not have to do the maintained on the solar panels or the equipment, you don't have to pay for the install, and you don't have to have the look of solar panels on your house. We do it all for you,” said Warners.
If enough people are interested, they're hoping to build up to 10 megawatts of solar panels, which will greatly reduce the carbon foot print.
"If good subscribe to a block of solar subscription that's the same thing as planting 12 acres of trees,” said Warners.
If you want more information about the solar gardens visit their site here: https://new.consumersenergy.com/residential/renewable-energy/solar-gardens.