Skip to main content

Renewable energy

A group of solar panels on the ground soak up the energy from the sun

Renewable energy

Renewable energy is produced from renewable sources such as sun and wind. Switching from using electricity produced by fossil fuels to renewable sources is one an important way to lessen the negative effects of climate change.

We are working with partners to install renewable energy technologies. The energy produced from these projects helps power public DNR facilities and beyond. Read about some of the exciting ways we are implementing renewable energy below.

a green electric maintenance machine sits on a pier with a sign for Lexington State Harbor in the background

Electric vehicles and equipment

Across the department, we are moving towards utilizing electric vehicles and equipment, such as side-by-sides, chainsaws, trucks and more. Some of our parks are already using 100 percent electric trucks for operations and maintenance. Switching to EVs helps us reduce gas and diesel use, while transitioning to using more renewable sources for the electricity that electric vehicles and equipment will require.

In addition, several state parks now have EV charging stations available for everyone to use, with more on the way!

An array of solar panels in front of the Oden Fish Hatchery Visitor Center

Solar-powered buildings

Solar panels installed on rooftops and on the ground at our facilities are helping to offset our electrical use. We’ve been both installing panels at our hatcheries, parks, and customer service centers, with more projects in the works.

We are working to reduce energy usage and make state fish hatcheries a leader in the use of green technology. Five out of our six fish hatcheries are now offsetting their energy use with solar. Oden State Fish Hatchery has two arrays installed and the other four facilities each have a single array.

In addition, we have worked with solar developers to install solar arrays at six state parks and one customer service center. The solar developer will own and maintain the equipment, while we benefit from lower-cost energy!

A solar array with multiple solar panels in a grassy field

Large-scale solar arrays

Former industrial sites, mining sites and old landfills (collectively referred to as “brownfields,”) are often difficult to redevelop due to environmental issues. These and other areas of state forests that are not productive for growing trees can host solar arrays. Constructing large-scale solar arrays, called "brightfields," on these sites is a way to put public lands back in productive use and produce clean, renewable energy, helping the DNR and Michigan achieve sustainability goals.

Through a competitive process, the DNR has an agreement with a large-scale solar array company for a pilot site:

This project will repurpose underused public lands for greater benefit, increase the local tax base and diversify energy sources.

A diagram showing heat and cooling transferring from the ground to a building

Geothermal HVAC systems

Geothermal energy is energy produced from the heat that is naturally generated underground. One example of how we use this renewable energy source is the geothermal heating and cooling system at Tawas Point Lighthouse in Tawas Point State Park. In the coming years, we are planning on replacing several outdated HVAC systems within our state park system with geothermal systems. We also plan on offsetting the electrical use of the geothermal systems with solar power, to create a true 100 percent renewable energy heating and cooling system.

Wind turbines at harbor with a dock in the foreground

Wind turbines

Wind turbines have been offsetting electrical use at Straits State Harbor since 2010. Energy use is particularly high at harbors in the winter to power specialized ice suppression equipment to keep the water near docks open. Wind energy will continue to be an important part of how we power state harbors.