Solar garden may replace former GR landfill

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The city of Grand Rapids is looking into converting an old landfill into a source of renewable energy. 

The former Butterworth Landfill near Garfield Avenue and Wealthy Street in Grand Rapids has been empty for many years. The city now wants use the site for a solar garden.

The city says if it moves forward with the plan, about 60% of the former landfill’s 120 acres would be covered in solar panels. Those panels could provide renewable energy to homeowners, businesses and for city operations.

“The landfill has been here for quite some time,” city sustainability and performance management officer Alison Waske-Sutter said. “I think it’s really important to the city just in terms of how we’ve embraced sustainability as a core value for the city, understanding that it provides environmental benefits and helping to stimulate the green job economy.”

The city says the project is part of an effort to make progress on the 100% renewable energy goal it set in 2007.

“The city understands that this is a really important issue and looking at how solar is a way to help bring down the amount of carbon that’s generated by our community at large,” Waske-Sutter added.

This comes as Consumers Energy is launching the “Love Michigan” Clean Energy Plan, which it kickoff event for in Grand Rapids Wednesday afternoon. The utility plans to replace all its coal plants with renewable sources of energy by 2040.

“We have long provided the power to fuel our farms, our factories, our families and we want to keep doing that for another hundred years and we think the most sustainable way to do that is to have a clean energy plan,” Consumers Energy CEO Patti Poppe said.

Poppe said Consumers already had plans to use solar technology, adding 6,000 megawatts or 59 square miles’ worth across the state.

The company is now considering partnering with Grand Rapids for the solar energy project at the landfill.

The city said the project has a lot of potential but is still in the very preliminary stages. There is no timeline or budgeted cost yet. The city says it hopes to have a formal proposal ready for commissioners to consider for the next fiscal year budget.

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