Community solar expansion in Michigan would contribute nearly $1.5 billion to the state’s economy over the next three decades, according to a study released by Michigan State University (MSU).
The study, conducted this fall by MSU Product Center/Center for Economic Analysis, examined the impact an expansion of 900 MW of community solar over five years would have in Michigan, enough energy to power approximately 171,000 homes. It was conducted by Drs. Steven R. Miller and William Knudson of MSU’s Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics.
Researchers concluded the installation and ongoing maintenance of community solar projects in Michigan would create 18,500 well-paying jobs and contribute $1.4 billion to the economy over the next 30 years.
“After analyzing the economic contributions of community solar power, it’s clear that the addition of these types of installations will significantly contribute to the state’s energy and general economy,” Dr. Miller said. “There’s no question that this would provide Michigan with positive benefit according to our analysis.”
According to the analysis, each year for five years, the installation of community solar projects around the state would support 900 well-paying jobs, generating about $318.56 million in labor income over 30 years and contributing nearly $475 million in cumulative gross state product.
A single installation of a 5-MW community solar project would directly employ about 15 Michigan workers and support about 30 well-paying jobs with an income of just under $2 million once accounting for secondary effects. In addition, the analysis estimates that a single 5-MW community solar project will contribute nearly $3 million annual gross domestic project during the installation phase.
“Community solar is a win-win for Michigan and this important new study from researchers at Michigan State University proves it,” said Jim Murray, Midwest director for the Coalition for Community Solar Access. “Michigan would benefit greatly from the significant jobs and economic impact that community solar would bring across our state, including rural, urban and suburban areas. We urge lawmakers to pass community solar legislation so the hardworking people of Michigan can begin to realize these substantial economic benefits.”
The study identified how the ongoing operation and maintenance of community solar projects would contribute to the economy as well. The research showed that annual operations and maintenance associated with one facility would support three well-paying jobs, nearly $180,000 in annual labor income and contribute roughly $414,210 to the gross state product. Over the 25-year lifespan and over all projected community solar projects, the operating and maintenance expenditures would directly or indirectly support 423 well-paying jobs annually, generating $412.36 million in total labor income and generate $952.01 million in cumulative gross state product.
“The numbers are clear — community solar will bring us the kind of economic and infrastructure support Michigan really needs, while also increasing customer choice, competition, and bill savings, to create a more resilient energy grid,” said Ed Rivet, executive director of Michigan Conservative Energy Forum. “It’s time to make renewable energy available to all our residents by expanding access to community solar.”
Community solar refers to a solar array located within a community where multiple customers can subscribe and receive credits on their utility bills for their share of the power that is produced, just as if the panels were on their own roofs. Through community solar, people can be connected to a local solar installation providing subscribers equal access to the economic and environmental benefits of solar generation.
The Michigan Community Solar Alliance (MCSA) was formed in May 2021 to advocate for the expansion of community solar in Michigan. Policy restrictions currently prevent the expansion of community solar in Michigan and the alliance is advocating for the passage of House Bills 4715 and 4716, sponsored by state Reps. Michele Hoitenga and Rachel Hood.
News item from MCSA