July 22 2014 12:00 AM

Solar panels tripled, largest in state


Tuesday, July 22 — The Lansing Board of Water and Light unveiled
the expansion of 385 solar panels at the Cedar Street solar array Tuesday,
almost tripling the generating power from 54 kW to 158 kW.

The expansion allows the collection of 817 panels along
Cedar Street. The array sits above the 10-million-gallon drinking water
reservoir, across from the Dye Water Conditioning Plant.

“Lansing is now the proud home of the largest municipal owned
solar array in the state of Michigan,” said Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero.

BWL General Manager J. Peter Lark said the new solar panels
cost a third less than the older panels and can produce approximately three
times the output of power.

“Solar is great for the city, because it’s available when
people need the power the most,” said Lark. “When it’s a hot, sunny day, we
need the power for all the people running their air conditioning.”

The first 432 panels were installed in 2008, and are capable
of generating 54 kilowatts.

BWL engineer Chris Knudstrup,said the newer panels have a 16
percent efficiency potential, compared to 6 percent from the older panels.

“They pack a whole lot more generation potential into the
same area,” said Knudstrup.

The new panels are also angled at 30 degrees, adjusted from
the older 40 degrees, to try and capture more sunlight.

“As these companies compete to make panels more efficient,”
Knudstrup said, “we’re going to be able to generate more power with newer

A new community solar project was also announced, allowing
companies and organizations to set up solar arrays from which BWL customers can
purchase the generated power, said Lark, without installing the panels on their

The new panels are part of a

renewable energy strategy to
make 10 percent of the renewable energy goal by 2015, a standard set by
Michigan law. Other aspects of the city’s renewable energy portfolio include
Moores Park hydroelectric unit along Grand River, the solar panels on top of
BWL’s REO Town Headquarters, and partnerships with Granger Landfill and
Tower/Kleber Hydro to supply alternative energy sources through landfill gas
and hydroelectricity respectively.