Capital Area Community Services, Consumers Energy will partner in making renewable energy equitably accessible
Nick Assendelft, EGLE Spokesperson, AssendelftN@Michigan.gov, 517-388-3135
Sarah Clinkscales, Capital Area Community Services, Sarah@CACSMi.org, 517-993-2862
Brian Wheeler, Consumers Energy, Brian.Wheeler@CMSEnergy.com, (517) 740-1545
Income-eligible residents in Mid-Michigan will be able to participate in a community solar garden program that can save them up to $200 annually on their energy bills through a $100,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).
Under the Clean Energy for Low-Income Communities Accelerator (CELICA) program, 25 qualified families will be chosen by Capital Area Community Services (CACS) to participate in the clean power initiative. CELICA combines home weatherization services, such as new insulation and energy-efficient appliances, with electric bill credits. There is no cost to the selected CACS clients, who will be enrolled in the program for up to three years. Guidelines to be eligible for the program are pre-approved for home weatherization, income requirements, and a Consumers Energy client.
Other program partners are Consumers Energy through its Solar Gardens Sunrise program, the University of Michigan (U-M) and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). U-M will conduct participant surveys to help design similar program models that will increase access to renewable energy and energy efficiency for income-qualified households. Program partners have a common goal of making clean energy more equitably accessible to utility customers.
“Utilities are investing heavily in community solar gardens and other alternative energy sources,” said Liz Browne, director of EGLE’s Materials Management Division. “CELICA leverages that popularity among companies and customers alike. Combining it with energy efficiency upgrades assures that low-income communities can have equitable access to programs that will lower utility bills.”
“The CELICA program aids in our efforts to assist families and individuals maintain self-sufficiency and meet their goals, while making their homes safer, energy-efficient and lowering carbon footprints,” CACS Executive Director Miguel Rodriguez said. “We’re excited to offer this program to 25 of our clients.”
Solar gardens allow utility customers to support the development and generation of solar energy without having to own their own installations. Under CELICA, CACS buys the energy subscriptions in Consumers Energy’s Solar Gardens Sunrise program and allocates them to program participants, free of charge. Consumers Energy owns and operates solar garden facilities at Grand Valley State University, Western Michigan University and in Cadillac. Energy efficiency assistance also will be made available to participants and coordinated through CACS.
“Consumers Energy is committed to a clean energy future for everyone in Michigan, so we’re excited to see more Lansing households take part in our Solar Gardens program and reduce their own energy waste,” said Lauren Youngdahl Snyder, Consumers Energy’s vice president for customer experience. “Partnerships like these connect more Michiganders with our Clean Energy Plan as we power our state with more clean energy.”
The CELICA program is part of EGLE’s commitment to work toward energy equity and allow medium- and low-income residents to realize bottom-line benefits of the state’s transition to renewable energy. It is part of an overall strategy to transition Michigan’s economy to carbon neutrality by 2050 under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s MI Healthy Climate Plan.
This is EGLE’s third CELICA project. In 2017, EGLE partnered with Cherryland Electric Cooperative near Traverse City to provide grant funding for a community solar project. In 2019, EGLE partnered with the Village of L’Anse in the Upper Peninsula to provide funding for a community solar installation that incorporated on-bill financing for participants. With on-bill financing, a portion of the cost to participate is included in monthly utility bills until the full cost of being part of the program has been paid by the customer.
Sign up to receive updates about EGLE’s climate and Catalyst Communities initiatives at Michigan.gov/EGLE.