|In 2019, Traverse City leaders are eager to meet their 100% commitment and will work to commit to a path forward. Traverse City Light & Power will continue to consider and evaluate local, regional, and statewide renewable energy proposals as part of its state-leading path to 100%.|
From May 21 thru 23, Groundwork will organize the 3rd Annual Michigan Clean Energy Conference, bringing together leaders from around the region, state, and nation to drive a clean energy future. This year’s conference will include a “Deal Making” session designed to bring together potential solar customers like Traverse City with investors, developers, land owners, and municipal and county leaders to accelerate project development and bidding.
Frankfort has a history of clean energy work that the community is now expanding upon. A few years back, the city hired Michigan Energy Options to conduct an extensive energy audit of municipal buildings, and more recently Frankfort locals, including leaders from the Benzie Solar Initiative, partnered with Groundwork on a Shines program to help homeowners with financing and technical assistance for installing solar panels.
Groundwork was brought in through a USDA grant to help think through how the community and the county could benefit from a new-energy economy. We mapped the community for solar—looking at where they could put solar installations and how financing might work. Meanwhile SEEDS assessed possible efficiency gains.
In 2019 Groundwork will dive even deeper into the Frankfort clean energy mission and look at next steps for building support for a community-wide Clean Energy Plan and possible 100% clean energy commitment. As we’ve seen in Traverse City, a commitment to 100% can really move things along, but a lot of background work must be done to make sure the community does in fact want that. Laying that groundwork leads to achieving not just the commitment, but also the goal.
Petoskey has had clean energy work front and center for several years. In 2018, Petoskey added several aggressive sustainability initiatives into its master plan.
Local efforts have also been driven by Positive Energy Petoskey (PEP), which has pushed the community to consider renewable energy and to implement energy efficiency measures.
Recently, over 30 community leaders came together at North Central Michigan College to discuss clean energy possibilities. The inspiring session made clear that Petoskey is ready for the new energy economy. In 2019, Groundwork will work with local leaders to wrap up our Mott-driven Community Foundation project, culminating with a solar map and clean energy report. We’ll be looking at rooftops of municipal buildings downtown but also at locations outside of downtown. Petoskey, like Traverse City and Charlevoix, has a municipally owned utility, so we are looking at ways the communities can get together on purchase of solar installations to provide the most economic benefit to their constituents.
Like other northern Michigan towns, Charlevoix also has a long history of clean energy action. In 2010, Charlevoix was awarded $50,000 in an Energy Efficiency & Conservation Block Grant for sustainability efforts. In 2018, the city council listed sustainability as a high priority and the city is moving forward on many levels.
In April, Charlevoix, along with Petoskey and Traverse City, offered a voluntary green pricing program for its residents to purchase clean energy.
In 2019, we will be working with Charlevoix leaders to map out and consider several options for local clean energy projects. We have already identified city properties as well as local nonprofits and businesses that could be candidates for solar installations.
While these cities provide an exciting snapshot of clean energy work across northwest Michigan, they are just the tip of the iceberg. The more our 100% work grows in breadth and depth, the more we see regional system connections and leverage points. 100% communities working together on larger scale renewable projects can bring price down.
As another example of working together, Charlevoix, Petoskey and Traverse City are discussing running a fun competition to see which municipally owned utility can sign up the most customers for their green rate, which enables electricity customers to purchase up to 100% clean energy for their homes and businesses for a slight premium. This type of creative, collaborative project, and the publicity it will generate, is just another example of what embracing clean energy can bring to a city and region. We look forward to playing a central role in similar efforts across our region and state.
Groundwork is always looking for more cities seeking support to explore 100% commitments and clean energy solutions. Please be in touch if we can help your community!