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Tuesday, July 22,2014

BWL expansion

Solar panels tripled, largest in state

by Matt Mikus

Tuesday, July 22 — The Lansing Board of Water and Light unveiled the expansion of 385 solar panels at the Cedar Street solar array Tuesday, almost tripling the generating power from 54 kW to 158 kW.

The expansion allows the collection of 817 panels along Cedar Street. The array sits above the 10-million-gallon drinking water reservoir, across from the Dye Water Conditioning Plant.

“Lansing is now the proud home of the largest municipal owned solar array in the state of Michigan,” said Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero.

BWL General Manager J. Peter Lark said the new solar panels cost a third less than the older panels and can produce approximately three times the output of power.

“Solar is great for the city, because it’s available when people need the power the most,” said Lark. “When it’s a hot, sunny day, we need the power for all the people running their air conditioning.”

The first 432 panels were installed in 2008, and are capable of generating 54 kilowatts.

BWL engineer Chris Knudstrup,said the newer panels have a 16 percent efficiency potential, compared to 6 percent from the older panels.

“They pack a whole lot more generation potential into the same area,” said Knudstrup.

The new panels are also angled at 30 degrees, adjusted from the older 40 degrees, to try and capture more sunlight.

“As these companies compete to make panels more efficient,” Knudstrup said, “we’re going to be able to generate more power with newer panels.”

A new community solar project was also announced, allowing companies and organizations to set up solar arrays from which BWL customers can purchase the generated power, said Lark, without installing the panels on their homes.

The new panels are part of a

renewable energy strategy to make 10 percent of the renewable energy goal by 2015, a standard set by Michigan law. Other aspects of the city’s renewable energy portfolio include Moores Park hydroelectric unit along Grand River, the solar panels on top of BWL’s REO Town Headquarters, and partnerships with Granger Landfill and Tower/Kleber Hydro to supply alternative energy sources through landfill gas and hydroelectricity respectively.

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