Following Bankruptcy, Burcham Solar Plan Continues

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Friday, July 20, 2018, 8:45 am
Andrew Graham

Above: The overgrown field at Burcham Park, showing in the distance a few of the solar panels installed before the bankruptcy. Photo by Kepler Domurat-Sousa.

Burcham Park, an overgrown field on Burcham Drive that is considered a “retired landfill,” is back on track to become the site of a community solar array.

At its July 17 meeting, East Lansing’s City Council approved a lease agreement giving rental rights for 2.7 acres of Burcham Park to Community Energy Options, a newly-formed subsidiary of Michigan Energy Options, for an initial term of 26 years.

Michigan Energy Options is a statewide nonprofit organization based in East Lansing. The idea behind the Burcham Community Solar park is to enable residents and businesses in the area to buy into solar power without having to install and upkeep solar panels on their own properties.

Residential and business customers can “rent” panels as part of this plan. Rental of one 300-watt panel costs people who sign up $399 for the whole 26-year term, which, according to the City of East Lansing, is a “favorable industry price point.” The option is available to Board of Water and Light (BWL) customers who seek to offset a traditional energy bill.

The rent to be paid to the City for this use of the old landfill? One dollar a year, paid quarterly.

The new advancement for the project comes nearly three years after the City approved a very similar lease between the City and Patriot Solar Group. That lease was terminated when Patriot Solar went bankrupt in 2017, and the project was put on hold.

On Tuesday, City Council also voted to re-up a contract with Golder Associates, Inc. for nearly $44,000 for environmental monitoring services at Burcham Park. This is necessary to deal with the ongoing problems of the retired landfill.

Golder performs major environmental duties for the site, including quarterly checks of methane levels and groundwater, as well as delivering the info in a quarterly report. The company also handles day-to-day oversight and maintenance

There is currently no specific timeline for the construction of solar panels, but sign-up for renting is available here. © 2013-2020 East Lansing Info