SUTTONS BAY — The Michigan League of Conservation Voters (LCV), Black Star Farms and Groundwork Center brought together industry and community leaders to outline the success and potential of solar energy in Michigan at Black Star Farms earlier today with hopes more businesses would follow the lead of clean, renewable energy options. Currently, state lawmakers are discussing the future of Michigan’s energy policy, and there is a dire need for renewable energy options to be included in that future. The presentation was followed by a tour of the solar panels built in the vineyard.
“What we can see at Black Star Farms is a business that has continued to function with profit and success while also nurturing and protecting the environment surrounding it,” said Eric Keller, Northern Michigan Regional Coordinator with Michigan LCV. “In Lansing, the benefits of renewables need to be involved in every conversation so we don’t leave our state in the past while leaving our future to unknown dangers, both to the environment and our communities.”
Director of Operations and Chief Financial Officer of Black Star Farms, Michael Lahti, shared how their 53kW solar panel array was made possible through state and local programs including: REAP Grants, PACE Finance, Michigan Saves and Accelerated Depreciation.
“It was an honor to host so many clean energy professionals, along with elected officials, members of the media and the public, to showcase how sustainable energy solutions such as solar, high efficiency HVAC systems, and LED technology have transformed Black Star Farms,” said Lahti. “Environmental responsibility is a high priority for all of us in Northern Michigan, and we feel our region is a perfect place to implement renewable energy options.”
Dan Worth, Clean Energy Policy Specialist of the Groundwork Center, provided resources and updates on solar energy in northern Michigan, Tony Anderson, Director of Cherryland Electric Co-Op, discussed Cherryland solar resources and policies for businesses, and Cory Connolly, Clean Energy Project Manager for Lean and Green Michigan, discussed PACE financing for large solar projects.
“Groundwork is thrilled to partner with Michigan LCV and Black Star Farms to highlight the hard work that Michael Lahti and Black Star Farms have done to go solar,” said Worth. “Through events like this and our Shines Program, we are excited to work with local businesses and residents to connect them to the resources they need to go solar themselves.”