Solar array goes up on Saginaw building with help of local companies

A new addition to the City of Saginaw's public services building is coming courtesy of a collaboration between the city, local solar industry companies, and electric utility provider Consumers Energy.

The solar array now in place atop the building was installed as part of Consumers experimental advanced renewable energy program, where the utility will buy back energy generated by the solar panels for the next 15 years. There are 96 panels in all, powered with cells using polycrystalline silicon manufactured by local company Hemlock Semiconductor.

The array produces up to 20 kilowatts of energy, with another small 4-kilowatt unit installed next to Saginaw City Hall, for educational and display purposes. The display panel there also uses the new solar tracking system, SunSteer, recently produced by Saginaw's Nexteer Automotove.

"The energy produced by the solar energy system is expected to equal up to 10 percent of the building's total current energy use," says Saginaw City Manager Darnell Earley, "In the process we are supporting regional companies that develop key products and services."

Hemlock and Nexteer are two of the local solar supply chain companies that Great Lakes Bay Region economic development officials are working to build a regional solar industry center around, as well as chemical and research manufacturers Dow Corning and Dow Chemical.

The latest effort toward that end is the Great Lakes Solar Technology Park in Thomas Township, a 231-acre tech and manufacturing park less than a mile from Hemlock Semiconductor offering free rent for qualifying projects, and local infrastructure and development support, such as from Saginaw Future.

Writer: Sam Eggleston
Source: Darnell Earley, City of Saginaw
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