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BATA Bus Moves Toward SolarPrint

Thriving Communities | July 22, 2014 | By Rebecca Fisher

The latest news about Obama’s move to have the EPA set limits on carbon emissions, combined with the dropping cost of solar—which has decreased by 75% since 2008 (NYT, Salvation gets cheap)—has good implications for the renewable energy market.

While some may not believe that solar could be successful in northern Michigan, there are already local moves toward solar that say otherwise. One example is the Bay Area Transportation Authority using solar panels on their 14 new bus shelters. These shelters provide cover for BATA bus riders from the sun during the summer and bad weather during winter. Now they will provide lighting fueled by solar panels. 

The new shelters are meant to provide “security and comfort…and one of the ways we could do that was by adding solar panels, so that we could have light,” said Carrie Thompson, BATA’s External Relations Specialist. “The solar panels provided the opportunity to light those (shelters) without any additional cost.” 

BATA received a grant that paid for the installation of the solar panels. They are on timers, shutting the light off at midnight and turning it back on at 5 a.m., allowing the batteries to provide enough light for the shelters.

Thompson said the response to the new shelters have been really good. There are hopes that with additional grant funding, the other 27 existing shelters could be outfitted with solar panels as well.

Thompson said BATA hopes to serve as an example to the community about how solar is an opportunity to both save money and invest in renewable energy.

“We hope people will see [the panels] and try solar in their facilities,” she said.

Many people aren’t aware that solar can be really successful in Michigan. Having more tangible examples in the community that indicate otherwise may encourage others to invest in solar as well.