Ann Arbor Installs More Solar Energy Projects

With a long history of leadership in matters both political and social,, too. In 2007, the U.S. Dept. of Energy named Ann Arbor as one of its 25 "Solar America Cities." The honor was backed up with a grant of more than $600,000 to be used for solar energy planning, promotion, and installation.

Two years ago, the city installed a highly visible solar array, capable of producing ten kilowatts of electricity, on top of the shelter at its popular Farmer's Market location. The money for this work came jointly from the U.S. Department of Energy and Ann Arbor's Downtown Development Authority. The idea was not only to save on the burning of fossil fuels and the emission of greenhouse gases, but to place the solar array where thousands of people could see it operating, and get  the idea to follow suit in other locations. To aid in promoting solar cell installations, a page on the city's web site provides a real-time display of how much power the Farmer's Market solar cells are producing.

Now the city's Historic Development Commission has approved two new solar electric installations on buildings that are normally kept in their original configuration for reasons of historical preservation.

One, a private home, is slated to have a set of solar cells, capable of generating one kilowatt of electricity, installed on the roof. One factor cited in the approval is that the solar cells can be removed in the future, if the Commission reverses its stance. The other location, the popular and well-attended Michigan Theater Building in the downtown district, is on the books to have the upper part of its facade fitted with an array of solar cells that can produce three kilowatts of power. As part of the deal, Theater management has agreed to reduce overall energy usage by five percent.

In addition, the commissioners are discussing the need to establish guidelines to make it easier for new solar projects to be approved in the future.

About half the money for the Michigan Theater installation will come from XSeed Energy, a local organization that is promoting alternative energy sources for use in Ann Arbor and its surroundings.

The city of Ann Arbor leadership, generally, is hoping to promote the idea of solar cells to other local homeowners, and to this end has created an online calculator (http://www2.a2gov.org/Mypropertyinformation/address.asp) that allows anyone to punch in an Ann Arbor address and obtain an estimate of that location's solar energy generating potential.

Separately, the Rudolf Steiner School's high school campus has received two grants to be used for the installation of solar cells on its roof, and to make other energy-saving changes, including new windows and interior lights that are more energy efficient.

More later ...

Photo credit:  jhritz's photostream