Clean energy advocates celebrate opening of Traverse City solar array

Traverse City took a leap forward in meeting its ambitious goal of powering 100% of city operations with clean energy on Thursday, October 26 with the opening of the M-72 Solar Project.

Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) and Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities attended the ribbon-cutting event to celebrate the milestone. The groups praised Traverse City Light & Power and the City of Traverse City for working together to make the project a reality.

“Climate change and the health impacts of pollution are urgent issues that require bold action, and cities like Traverse City are leading the way with ambitious clean energy goals,” said Kate Madigan, energy and climate specialist at MEC, and director of Michigan Climate Action Network. “It’s been less than a year since the city set its 100% clean energy goal and this project shows that we are making real progress.”

“Thanks to the leadership of our city and utility, Traverse City is reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and reaping the benefits of local clean energy,” Madigan added.

“This project is particularly special because of the process and collaboration that made it happen,” said Dan Worth, clean energy policy specialist for Groundwork. “You often hear about utilities, customers, cities, and advocates fighting over renewables -- this is an example of how a community can work together to keep jobs and customer dollars local.”

The new solar array covers nearly four acres along M-72 near Traverse City, a popular route to the Leelanau Peninsula and Sleeping Bear Dunes. The solar project is on the same site as Michigan’s first utility-grade wind turbine.

With the addition of this one-megawatt solar project, Traverse City now generates 21% of its electricity from clean energy sources. In December 2016, the Traverse City Commission unanimously approved a resolution to power 100% of city operations with renewable energy by 2020 which includes plans to make the entire community carbon neutral by mid-century. More than 40 U.S. cities, including Grand Rapids and Northport, have set similar 100% clean energy goals.

Both MEC and Groundwork have staff appointed to the Traverse City Green Team, which was created to implement the city’s clean energy goals.


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