ALLENDALE, Mich. (WOOD) — The largest solar garden in Michigan is now up and running.

The 11,000 solar panels are installed on a 17 acre plot of land on 48th Avenue, just South of Grand Valley State’s main campus in Allendale. The solar garden started producing energy for commercial use Monday.

Consumers Energy and Grand Valley State University held a ground breaking ceremony for the new solar garden in October 2015.

The new solar garden’s operation comes just days after Consumers Energy shut-off seven of their oldest, smallest coal plants, making the shift to clean, renewable energy. Consumers Energy customers can buy blocks of energy from the solar garden.

“You can be part of this without the upkeep and maintenance of having your own solar array at home,” Consumers Energy Senior Public Information Director Roger Morgenstern said. “Think of the electric grid as an interstate highway we make the electrons at facilities like our Grand Valley solar garden and we put those electrons on the grid. We put them on the poles and wires we see around the state of Michigan. Then you as customers use that energy.”

Morgenstern said customers may not be using the exact electrons produced at the solar garden near Allendale, but they would be supporting the solar energy. After the rebates and credits Morgenstern said it could cost customers as little as $10 per month. Consumers Energy customers can learn more about the solar garden and sign up online.

Grand Valley State University was the first subscriber to the solar garden, in hopes of saving thousands of dollars.

Construction is expected to begin soon on a solar garden at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, and Consumers Energy is also awaiting local governmental approval to build one in the Lansing area.

Online:Solar Gardens | Consumers Energy