SHIAWASSEE COUNTY — Michigan’s largest solar farm, Ranger Power’s Assembly Solar Project, is now under construction, according to a company press release issued Tuesday.
Work began on the $250-million solar farm in Hazelton and Venice townships in 2019 with piles and grading before the year ended.
“We’re excited to see construction begin on the Assembly Solar Project and we appreciate the continued support from the local community,” Paul Harris, president of Ranger Power, said in the release. “The Assembly Solar Project will provide clean, renewable energy to Michiganders who obtain their electric service from a large group of locally owned and controlled municipal electric utilities that aggregate and share power supply through the Michigan Public Power Agency (MPPA).”
The Shiawassee County Planning Commission unanimously approved Ranger Power’s special use permit for the project in January 2019. The project is being developed on a 1,200-acre site of primarily fields and vacant land, and is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by the equivalent of 77,702 cars per year, officials said.
The solar farm will be set up in large blocks of panels which, when tilted, will be a maximum 16 feet tall. The farm will be quiet except for a “slight humming noise” from inverters, which will be placed in the middle of the panel blocks — which themselves will be no closer than 50 feet from property lines — to limit the sound. In October 2018, a study the company conducted showed the noise did not exceed ordinance limits.
Sean Harris, senior development manager at Ranger Power, said the company began scouting the area in June 2017. Part of what was attractive about the region was the existing infrastructure, according to Harris. The company plans to connect into an existing electrical substation west of M-13 near Wilkinson Road in Venice Township.
The project will create more than 300 jobs during construction, with approximately $16-million being spent in Shiawassee County, officials said.
“The Assembly Solar Project will create new jobs and contribute to the economic growth of Shiawassee County and the region,” Paul Harris said. “We will continue forging strong partnerships with local businesses, neighbors and residents to ensure this project benefits the entire community by creating more jobs and revenue for schools and public safety.”
McCarthy Building Companies, the construction contractor for the project, began conducting interviews in Owosso to hire people to work at the site in October 2019. McCarthy hired 25 people in 2019 and will hire 250 people in 2020 from Shiawassee, Ingham and Genesee counties to work on the project.
“The Assembly Solar Project is a big win for our community, bringing jobs and much needed tax revenue to Shiawassee County,” Justin Horvath, president and CEO of the Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership, said in the release. “This project is pumping tax revenue into Shiawassee County, and schools, small businesses like restaurants and hardware stores, libraries, and fire and police services, as well as roads and bridges all stand to benefit from this project.”
The Lansing Board of Water & Light (BWL), Michigan’s largest municipally owned utility, is a participant in the Assembly Solar Project as part of BWL’s commitment to provide its customers with 30 percent clean energy by 2020 and 40 percent by 2030.
For more information about the Assembly Solar Project, visit assemblysolar.com.