A Watershed Moment: Renewable Energy Projects in Grand Rapids

The price of solar energy is decreasing, according to Alibasic.

On today’s episode of A Watershed Moment, we hear from Haris Alibasic, the City of Grand Rapids’ Director of Energy & Sustainability.

The current goal for the city of Grand Rapids is to utilize 100% renewable energy from Michigan sources by 2020, according to the 2009 Approach to Renewable Energy document.

Grand Rapids has worked to obtain this goal by installing electric car meters in the downtown area and researched alternative forms of energy sources such as solar power, wind energy and geothermal energy.

The city is installing geothermal heating and cooling systems at two fire stations in Grand Rapids. Geothermal heat pumps extract heat from the earth to heat the building.

Despite current setbacks, solar panels will soon be providing on-site energy at the city’s water building. Solar production should generate 123,032 kilowatt hours per year, about 25 percent of the buildings 400,000 annual electric consumption, according to an mLive article about the building’s solar panel installation.

Grand Rapids continues to research wind energy usage as a form of renewable energy. Currently, Consumers Energy offers a wind energy option where costumers have the option of buying electricity produced solely from wind farms.

The goal for all renewable energy projects is to reduce Grand Rapids’ carbon footprint while being cost-effective. Utilizing renewable energy is cheaper in the long-run, but can be expensive to install. The geothermal project for example will initially cost the city $274,000. But geothermal heating reduces energy costs and the project will pay itself off after 7.5 years.

Alibasic is confident in the renewable energy projects planned for Grand Rapids, “If any organization…reduces their energy consumption they can really see significant savings,” he says.

Listen to this episode of A Watershed Moment online.

“A Watershed Moment” is a weekly radio program focused on environmental news and happenings in West Michigan, plus solutions for living a greener life.  Broadcast on WYCE-FM 88.1 on Tuesdays at 8:30am and 5:30pm, this program is produced by Grand Rapids Community Media Center and West Michigan Environmental Action Council.

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