The Michigan Department of Transportation says Cascade Renewable Energy of Grand Rapids has been awarded a contract to develop and install technology to convert solar energy into electricity at three MDOT rest area facilities. The projects, two in the Upper Peninsula and one in southeast Michigan, will use three separate, grid-connected solar systems to lower overall energy costs while demonstrating the feasibility and benefit of photovoltaic (PV) energy generation. The project is 100 percent federally funded with a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, administered by MDOT and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).
The rest area projects are slated for St. Ignace (Mackinac County) at southbound I-75; Chelsea (Washtenaw County) at eastbound I-94, and Seney (Schoolcraft County) at M-28. An added feature at each rest area will be a lobby kiosk that will display real-time information about energy savings. Two of the rest areas will have ground-mounted solar energy systems capable of generating approximately 10 kW, with a third capable of generating approximately 16kW. All three projects are on a fast track; construction is scheduled to begin in mid-September with completion by the end of November. The Seney rest area project will save $1,440 annually in energy costs, while the St. Ignace rest area project will save $980 annually. The Chelsea rest area project will save $1,955 in energy costs annually. Combined, the three projects will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 tons annually.
“We believe this project will help demonstrate how MDOT can harness renewable energy to bring down energy costs, operate more efficiently and lessen the impact of our facilities on the environment,” said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. “MDOT is committed to exploring ways to reduce its overall energy costs to the greatest extent possible and we are pleased to be working with a Michigan company to do so.”