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Pine Gate Renew­ables’ new solar farm in Jonesville is ten­ta­tively set to go online this Friday. Courtesy | Facebook

A new solar farm on Lake Wilson Road in Jonesville is planning to begin sending out power on Friday, Jan. 15, according to Tami von Isakovics, director of com­mu­ni­ca­tions and mar­keting at Pine Gate Renew­ables.

This solar farm is one of 14 in Michigan orga­nized by Con­sumers Energy, Pine Gate Renew­ables, and Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors.

The solar farm projects began last spring; eight of the 14 sites began sending renewable elec­tricity to Con­sumers Energy cus­tomers earlier this month, according to a Jan. 8 press release from Con­sumers Energy.

Dave Postma, vice pres­ident of con­struction at Pine Gate Renewable and a native of Midland, Michigan, has overseen the project.

These solar farms will more than double the company’s solar energy capacity, adding up to 16 megawatts to the 10 megawatts of solar energy pre­vi­ously available to cus­tomers.

Con­struction of the Lake Wilson Road site, a 16-acre farm known as the Bullhead project, began on Oct. 5 of last year. The new site should produce about two megawatts annually.

Con­sumers Energy, a public utility that pro­vides natural gas and elec­tricity to more than half of Michigan’s res­i­dents across all 68 Lower Peninsula coun­tries, has a 20-year agreement to buy energy from the projects, according to the press release.

Terry DeDoes, senior public infor­mation director at Con­sumers Energy, says that the tran­sition to solar is part of the company’s clean energy plan.

“We are going to elim­inate coal and achieve net-zero carbon emis­sions by 2040,” DeDoes said. “A big part of that renewable port­folio will be from solar. We are planning to add 6,000 megawatts of solar to our system.”

DeDoes noted that there is still work to be done to achieve this goal, including more solar farms to come.

“Cur­rently, we source around 11% renewable energy,” DeDoes said. “In 2030, we plan to be at 42%, which gives you an idea of how we are ratch­eting up the number of renew­ables that make up the elec­tricity that we are pro­viding our cus­tomers.”

The decreased cost of solar energy and the shorter devel­opment period has also made solar the most attractive choice for renewable energy in Michigan, DeDoes said.

According to Tami von Isakovics, director of com­mu­ni­ca­tions and mar­keting at Pine Gate Renew­ables, energy prices should not increase with the new energy source.

“The price of elec­tricity should be about the same price or less,” von Isakovics said. “The com­munity can feel good about clean energy.”

 Pine Gate Renew­ables’ presence in the com­munity will also see an increased tax base, and the local com­munity will receive tax ben­efits from the solar power, DeDoes said.

Finally, von Isakovics said the project has employed local workers.

“We employed 240 local workers for the initial 8 projects,” von Isakovics said. “We always hire locally.”

Pine Gate Renew­ables is a solar farm developer based in Asheville, North Car­olina, with solar farms across the country, from Oregon to South Car­olina, according to its website. The company cur­rently operates solar projects in five states, according to Hillsdale Daily News.

Pine Gate “orig­i­nates, develops, finances, and operates” solar farms, gen­er­ating power for local com­mu­nities, according to its website. They strate­gi­cally position farms close to existing utility, also con­sid­ering their sur­roundings to ensure minimal envi­ron­mental impact.

“We are pro­tecting the planet here in Michigan,” DeDoes said. “The people are ben­e­fiting, and it’s a way to help support pros­perity with the local jobs and the con­struction of the site.”