EGLE low- to moderate-income solar energy program wins national accolade

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 10, 2020
Nick Assendelft, Public Information Officer, AssendelftN@Michigan.gov, 517-388-3135
Lisa Thomas, EGLE Clean Energy Engineer, ThomasL17@Michigan.gov, 517-282-6646

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s (EGLE) Michigan Solar Communities ­-- Low to Moderate Income Access Program has been named one of this year’s State Leadership in Clean Energy award winners by the Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA).

The EGLE program, led by Clean Energy Engineer Lisa Thomas, aims to reduce roadblocks for low- to moderate-income Michigan homeowners so they can access alternative energy and save money on their energy bills. It provides information on technical assistance and programs to obtain community solar power as well as energy efficiency upgrades.

“Offering alternatives to low- and moderate-income utility customers results in greater energy equity and broader public support for clean energy,” EGLE Director Liesl Clark said. “Families participating in the program save money by having less burdensome utility costs. This program is an important step in the just transition to a clean energy future.”

The CESA judges said of EGLE’s program: “This program exemplifies how partnerships between state government and local electric utilities can use community solar to increase low-income access to solar. It would be easily replicable by states even with limited resources.”

The Low to Moderate Income Access program, which launched in 2018, allows customers of two utilities, Cherryland Electric Cooperative near Traverse City and the Village of L’Anse in the Upper Peninsula, to purchase shares or panels in a community solar array and receive credits on their monthly bills. Cherryland installed 450 solar panels that produce two megawatts of power shared by 50 subscribers. The Village of L’Anse installed 200 solar panels that produce 110 kilowatts of power for 25 subscribers. Both arrays received partial funding through grants from EGLE’s Energy Services.

Program participants are realizing between $20 and $30 a month in savings on their utility bills. Other benefits include:

  • Encouraging customers to be energy efficient.
  • Improving understanding of renewable energy.
  • Increasing health by having healthier homes maintained at safe temperature, improved air quality.
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Lowering the number of late payments and accounts in arrears.

The CESA awards recognize innovative state programs and projects that have accelerated the adoption of renewable energy technologies and strengthened clean energy markets. The Michigan Solar Communities -- Low to Moderate Income Access Program was one of six winners chosen by a panel of independent panel. The winners were announced June 9.

CESA, a nonprofit coalition of public agencies and organizations that work to advance clean energy, will host a webinar July 23 on the Low- to Moderate-Income Access program with speakers from EGLE. You must register to participate in the webinar. A description of all the winning programs can be found on CESA’s website.

More information about community solar projects is available at the Office of Climate and Energy’s webpage.

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EGLE's Clean Energy Engineer Lisa Thomas spearheaded the Michigan Solar Communities -- Low- to Moderate-Income Access Program that encourages the use of solar energy to reduce utility bills. The program was one of six winners nationwide that were chosen for a 2020 State Leadership in Clean Energy award.