This summer, when you go to Ann Arbor's Farmers Market
, be sure to check out the roof. It'll be covered in innovation and alternative energy. The 156 solar panels that will be placed on the roof of the market will be the most substantial solar installation to date for the city of Ann Arbor.
And there's a reason it's going up on the market.
"We chose that site for its visibility," says Dave Konkle, City of Ann Arbor energy coordinator. "We wanted people to see it. They'll see it there."
The project is expected to be completed by July.
Each panel generates about 68 watts of electricity. Basically the energy of a light bulb. It doesn't seem like much. However, if you were to take 156 light bulbs, well, that's pretty darn bright.
This is the same concept with these panels. Their power is in numbers. So, gathering 156 panels of solar energy, that's enough to power the market. In fact, Konkle says, they'll have energy left over.
"We thought about selling our excess energy to adjacent properties," Konkle says. "But DTE made it a bit difficult – so, it goes back to DTE."
Konkle says that the panels will generate about 10 kilowatts of electricity, which would be enough to power three to five homes.
Using the solar energy, the Farmers Market is expected to save about $1,500 a year in energy cost. The project, financed by a healthy grant from Ann Arbor's Downtown Development Authority, ran a price tag of $100,000.
Another city building that utilizes solar energy is Fire station One. They have solar heated hot water tanks. Konkle says solar hot water tanks are fairly inexpensive, about $10,000, and saves $1000 a year in energy cost.
But Michigan is still behind the eight ball when it comes to solar power, Konkle says.
"We're really slow when it comes to solar here in Michigan," he says. "Everywhere but Michigan there are solar rebates. For instance in Seattle, the federal government gives back 30 percent, the state gives back 30 percent, and the energy company gives back 10 percent. That's 70 percent back in rebates for solar. We get nothing in Michigan right now."
Source: Dave Konkle, City of Ann Arbor Energy CoordinatorWriter: Terry Parris, Jr.