Holland, Zeeland utilities ink deals with solar farms

HOLLAND — Holland and Zeeland’s electric utilities are shifting their energy portfolios toward more solar energy with 20-year contracts to buy power from two large solar projects. 

The Holland Board of Public Works and Zeeland Board of Public Works are joining about a dozen other members of the Michigan Public Power Agency to purchase 50 megawatts of a 100-megawatt solar project in Hart and 25 megawatts of a 125-megawatt solar project in Calhoun County. 

Holland and Zeeland's public electric utilities are buying into two large-scale solar projects in Michigan in Hart and Calhoun County.

Once the two solar facilities are operating, they will supply 4-5 percent of Holland and Zeeland’s electric power, according to projections. 

The Hart project is being built by CMS Enterprises, a subsidiary of Consumers Energy, and is expected to begin supplying power in 2023. 

Holland’s share of the Hart project will be 11.7 megawatts of installed capacity, and Zeeland’s will be 5.6 megawatts. 

Of Savion’s 125-megawatt array in Calhoun County’s Sheridan Township set to begin commercial operations in 2022, Holland will buy 6 megawatts and Zeeland 2.9. 

The two projects represent a shift toward solar in both renewable energy portfolios, as the price of solar energy has become competitive and more utility-scale projects are being built in Michigan. 

The Convis Township Planning Commission recommended approval of a 1,200-acre solar energy center. Invenergy LLC has constructed many solar energy farms across the world including this one in Streator, Illinois.

The two utilities started receiving their first electricity from solar contracts in December when the first phase of Assembly Solar, the largest solar farm in the state, started operations. 

Phase II of Assembly Solar and the Invenergy solar project are also expected to begin commercial operation soon, supplying HBPW with a total of 12 megawatts between the three solar agreements.

Adding the Hart and Calhoun County facilities, Holland will have a total of 30 megawatts of solar capacity by 2024, estimated to supply about 5.5 percent of retail electricity sales for HBPW.