Partners unveil West Side solar power project


Courtesy Consumers Energy

A major commercial solar power project on Grand Rapids’ West Side has been unveiled.

Consumers Energy and Rockford Construction, partners on the Circuit West downtown sustainability project, have established a network of nearly 1,800 solar panels on top of the Bridge Street Market/Hendrik building at 405 Seward Ave. NW and the adjacent West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology building at 614 First St. NW.

Circuit West is a 13-block district dedicated to testing, implementing and showcasing new technologies in sustainable and renewable energy.

The solar panels are supplemented by a 500-kilowatt battery across the street. The battery will store excess power and balance the demand for energy on cloudy days.

“Today, there is very little storage on the grid, so electricity is generated just moments before you use it,” said Garrick Rochow, SVP of operations, Consumers Energy. “With large batteries, we will make our grid more efficient, effective and sustainable.”

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) was also present for the unveiling and said West Michigan is now leading the way with the battery storage system.

“Projects like Circuit West will ensure more families and businesses have greener and more reliable energy,” Stabenow said.

Rochow added the new rooftop solar array will pack enough charge to power up to 100 homes.

The latest endeavor is part of Consumers’ Integrated Resource Plan to move to zero coal usage by 2040, which it filed to the Michigan Public Service Commission in July 2018.

The Circuit West battery will go into commercial operation within the next few weeks.

It will be joined by a 1-megawatt-hour battery – enough to power up to 1,000 homes – which the company installed at Western Michigan University’s Parkview Campus in Kalamazoo, according to a Business Journal report from October 2018.

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