A New York solar power company plans to invest $150 million to install hundreds of thousands of solar panels on more than 750 acres in Sheridan Township.
Ranger Power’s River Fork Solar project, planned for between 750 and 1,000 acres of land between 26 and 29 Mile Road, will put out 149 megawatts, enough to power close to 24,000 homes.
The energy from the panels will be connected to the electrical grid through a substation just west of 28 Mile Road. From there, the energy will be sold to utility companies in the state. Ranger Power hasn’t finalized any of the necessary agreements yet.
The company is still in the permitting phase for the project and waiting to receive a special use permit from the township before construction starts in mid-to-late 2020, but most of the work on real estate agreements with property owners has been finalized.
“A lot of them still are farmers, and this is a way to supplement their income from farming,” Development Manager Sean Harris said. “It’s also exciting because it’s a way for the property to remain in their family, and the property can continue to be farmed by future generations.”
The company is required to cover removal of the project at the end of its life. An independent engineer will evaluate the cost of removing the project and restoring the property.
The lifespan of the project is projected to be about 25 years. In those years, the company estimates that it will provide $15 million in property tax revenue to local governments.
“We are very excited,” Sheridan Township Supervisor Richard Porter said. “It will give us some money that we hope we can use to benefit the township. It will be great.”
Taxes are one of the largest operating costs for the project.
“We will be contributing for schools and public safety…roads while at the same time not really tapping into those resources,” Harris said. “This project wouldn’t be putting kids in schools, [and] there wouldn’t be much traffic on the roads as a result of the project.”
The company anticipates spending $16 million in construction and filling 269 jobs during the construction phase.
“From our point of view the project really brings a lot of benefits but no real costs,” Ranger Power Director of Permitting Sergio Trevino said. “We want to have people to have a chance to see that that this a good thing for rural counties that are struggling. This is some real economic development.”
Ranger Power is a two-year-old company, so it hasn’t fully completed any solar power projects yet. The company’s development team has a combined experience of working on 3,500 megawatts of renewable energy projects throughout the country.
A couple of years ago, the company started to look at developing in Michigan in part because of the state legislature’s decision to require utility companies to get 15 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2021.
“It was a really smart move by the state because its going to position Michigan and in this case Sheridan Township to really take advantage of what’s going to be a boom in renewable energy,” Trevino said.
In January, Ranger received a special use permit from Shiawassee County’s Planning Commission to move forward on a $250 million solar farm in Hazelton and Venice townships that will provide enough electricity for 35,000 homes. It will be the largest solar power project in the state to date. Construction is expected to start later this year.
The Ranger Power project won’t be the first solar power development in Calhoun County.
In early March, the Marshall Township Planning Commission approved a special land-use permit for National solar company Cypress Creek Renewables to construct a 8,000-solar-panel site on 20 acres at the intersection of 13 Mile Road and L Drive North. The facility will produce enough energy to power between 300 and 400 single-family homes.
For more information about the Sheridan Township solar power project go to: riverforksolar.com.
Contact Kalea Hall at (269) 966-0697 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @bykaleahall.
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