Solar panels are currently being installed at the park-and-ride structure near the intersection of the East Beltline and I-96. The panels will power nearby light fixtures.
This project is projected to save the state around $13,500 annually. Estimated carbon emission reductions could be around 80.6 tons, which is equivalent to 9,047 gallons of gasoline. This efficient step forward shows MDOT’s open mind to using other sustainable practices in the future.
An excerpt from Mlive:
Nicholas Occhipinti, policy and community activism director for the West Michigan Environmental Action Council, lauded the solar panel project in particular, saying it appears to be the start of a move toward more sustainable energy.
“The idea is that solar power is really great in terms of it meets peak demand really well,” Occhipinti said. “So when the most burden is put on the electric grid in the summertime is when the solar panels tend to produce the most electricity.”
The project is not without its caveats.
At the estimated cost of $650,000 and variable annual savings of around $13,500, the project will not pay itself off for 20 or so years, Richard said.
But the cost of other energy sources has fluctuated wildly, he said, and using the solar energy qualifies the state for renewable energy credits that can be sold and traded like stock market shares.
“Based on the rising costs of energy, which is a total loose cannon, we don’t know what it’s going to be, but that’s another great thing about this project,” Richard said. “If energy does rise in cost, it will help pay off the project that much quicker.”