L’ANSE, Mich. (WLUC) – L’Anse held a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday for their new array of solar panels. The project was a joint effort between the village and a variety of organizations.
“We got talking with the Western U.P. Planning Region, some folks at Michigan Tech, and some of the Folks at WPPI Energy, who is our wholesale purchase provider for our electric utility, about community solar and what that might look like,” said Bob LaFave, the Village Manager for L’Anse.
The solar panels were constructed and put up out near the Bishop Baraga Shrine. Currently 340 panels are set up however there is room for more to be installed at a later date.
“The solar array will put out about 130,000 kilowatt hours a year, with that you could fully power a good 13 to 15 houses annually,” said Brett Niemi, a Senior Energy Services Representative for UPPI energy.
L’Anse is currently one of only three communities in the Upper Peninsula to utilize solar energy, the other two being Marquette and Escanaba. The plan was put into motion after a trial run at L’Anse’s water treatment facility.
“The long term project started out with a pilot project, an 11 kWh system we put down at our water treatment plant, and it started a beautiful community conversation about what may be possible here,” said LaFave.
With the new panels up and operational, businesses and members of the community can purchase the panels to use for their source of electricity.
“We also have a program for low to moderate income folks that do a weatherization program with the community action agency, where they can get up to 10 of these panels if they qualify. That way the power that’s generated here and the savings can be realized throughout our entire community,” added LaFave.