ESCANABA, Mich. (WZMQ) – On Tuesday evening, Delta County residents and commissioners discussed the pros and cons of solar panels with a Michigan State University educator.
MSU Extension bioenergy educator Charles Gould gave a presentation at a special county board meeting on the possibility of incorporating more solar energy into Delta County.
Gould discussed the dual uses of solar panels. This includes growing crops around or underneath panels, creating or growing pollinator habitats, and incorporating panels into grazing spaces for animals.
“You’re performing ecosystem services, you’re able to grow food, you’re able to generate electricity, you’re able to hold soil in place,” said Gould.
According to Delta County Commissioner Steven Viau, this discussion became necessary when a small group of Escanaba Township residents who wanted to establish solar arrays on their property could not do so under the township’s current solar ordinance.
“They felt their best opportunity was to annex their land into another township that has a different solar ordinance that is run by the county, where they will probably be able to pursue their dreams of putting up some solar arrays on a larger scale,” Viau said.
However, some residents are against solar energy in the county. Others have questions, concerning everything from devaluing their property to worries that the bedrock might not be deep enough to safely install solar arrays.
“The questions, many of them just don’t have a simple answer,” said Gould. “They’re complex, and I think that it’s going to involve more discussion and more information so that people can really at least have the facts presented to them and make an informed decision.”
Gould says he hopes his presentation moves the discussion between the board and residents forward toward the best energy solution for Delta County.
“There is a role for renewable energy,” he said. “Solar isn’t going anywhere. We need to figure out what role that’s going to be in our collective lives. How do we take all the positive things that renewable energy offers and incorporate that into our society so that our quality of life improves? That’s really what we want.”
Commissioner Viau says Delta County now has more resources to use in deciding how to proceed with solar power and annexation.