Utility Scale Solar Could Be Coming To York Township

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A new solar farm in York Township is moving steadily forward to becoming a reality as soon as mid-2022. White Tail Solar is a utility scale solar power project on the border between York Township and Augusta Township. The developer, New York-based Ranger Power, said that they will eventually transfer ownership to Detroit Thomas Edison, who will operate the power plant as part of their grid.

The plant will be up for discussion at the next York Township Planning Commission meeting, January 11. When asked about whether he supports the project, York Township Planning Commissioner Mitch Gasche said he simply didn’t know yet.

“We just got their special use permit package and we haven’t fully evaluated it,” Gasche said.

According to a website set up by the developer
to explain the project, the 120 megawatt plant would provide Detroit Thomas Edison with up to 120 megawatts of solar energy an hour at peak efficiency. Ranger Power estimates that this project will remove about 200,000 tons of carbon from the atmosphere, over its expected quarter-century project lifespan.

These panels would have receptors on both sides. Drew Vielbig, an Associate Project Developer at Ranger, told the Sun Times-News that that means the system will be able to collect sunlight reflected from the snow in winter will also be captured by the panels. The rectangular panels also rotate with the sun, maximizing efficiency.

“We plan to hold local job fairs in the community, in partnership with local economic groups. We will also partner with a construction company on the project,” Vielbig said.

Up to $130 million could be invested in as many as 150 temporary construction jobs, and provide an extra $17 million in additional tax revenue for the area over ten years.

Paul Harris, the President of Ranger Power, told the Sun Times-News that there could also be between five and 10 permanent, middle class, maintenance jobs around the project as well. These jobs would involve equipment monitoring, maintenance and yard work.

Augusta Township did not respond to several requests for comment. But township records, emailed to the Sun Times News from an Augusta Township official show that the process is ongoing.

Dozens of people spoke at the meeting, according to the Augusta planning commissions’ minutes, objecting to the installation being so close to their property. The decision was made to postpone the application, until Ranger Power provides further information, requested by the township and residents. Concerns were brought up about how close the project was to adjacent properties, how visible it would be, among other questions.

If and when the townships have given their permissions, they will move on to getting permissions from Washtenaw County and Lansing; as necessary.

DTE has committed itself to becoming a net-zero
carbon emitting power utility company by mid-century. DTE does not own the property yet though, and declined comment because they will not take ownership if and unless they get approval for the transaction from they Michigan Public Service Commission and the project is successfully completed.

Ranger has also done other solar projects within Michigan. Its Shiawassee County solar installation, for example, runs at 239 megawatts, selling power to multiple cities in Mid-Michigan.

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