Public hearing to address solar energy ordinance

BROWN TWP. — As the cost of installation for solar energy modules decreases, many residents and businesses are giving it more consideration.

Even in northern Michigan, solar energy is growing in popularity, with mild summer temperatures that help the modules operate smoothly.

Brown Township Planning Commission is holding a public hearing to discuss the creation of a solar energy ordinance. It will take place at 6 p.m. on March 4.

Tim Joseph, of the planning commission, feels it is a step in the right direction.

“Right now we don’t have an existing ordinance,” he said. “It sets up the standards for commercial solar energy as well as standards for residential use.”

The ordinance will establish guidelines on solar energy development in the future.
“We’ve had companies who are interested in creating solar farms contact people in our area about this,” said Joseph. “There haven’t been any leases for a planned project yet, to my knowledge.”

Joseph said there are a variety of sites that solar energy companies could be interested in, which could benefit residents in the township.
“There are some pretty good tracts of land around here, and there is a possibility, if it were to happen, that landowners might be able to lease their land for a lucrative price to these solar farm companies,” he said. “I don’t know if it will happen here, but I expect to see more of it in the future.”

The planning commission evaluated other local ordinances to help establish how they want to move forward with their own.

“We’ve looked at other ordinances for surrounding local townships to help get an idea for ours, including Manistee Township,” said Joseph. “We want it to be less restrictive than others have, to encourage it to grow here.”

Joseph feels it is important to make solar energy accessible to the area, and he anticipates it will become more popular in the region.

“Solar energy is probably one of the most benign forms of energy, it’s clean and you don’t see the same issues with it as you see with fossil fuels and other resources,” he said. “I think it’s a push in the right direction.”

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, there has been an average annual growth rate in the solar market of 59 percent over the last 10 years, and generates enough electricity to power more than 11.3 million homes.

The amount of solar installed at U.S. corporations and businesses is enough to offset 1.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

Contact Jane Bond at (231) 398-3111 or email jane.bond@hearst.com. Follow her on Twitter: @MNA_Jane.

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