The solar panels on top of Ypsilanti Food Cooperative are not the first to grace Ypsilanti’s rooftops and a new report suggests that there may be many more to come. Standing outside the Co-op today, Environment Michigan released a new Environment Michigan Research and Policy Center report that outlines a vision for how Ypsilanti can become a “Solar Destination”. The report – Building a Solar Destination: How Ypsilanti can harness the sun to power its future – provides a roadmap to help put Ypsilanti on track to have solar on 1,000 roofs by 2020.
Environment Michigan was joined by David Konkle, board member at Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association (GLREA), Dave Strenski, founder of SolarYpsi, Corinne Sikorski, owner of Ypsilanti Fo-od Coop, and Matt Greff, co-owner of Corner Brewery, in releasing the Environment Michigan Research & Policy Center report. The speakers highlighted the city’s accomplishments in going solar so far, and called on renewed community commitments for overcoming local barriers to going solar and making the vision of a solar-powered Ypsilanti a reality.
“Ypsilanti’s combination of city leadership, sustainably-minded citizens and businesses, and SolarYpsi has helped lay the groundwork for solar to become a central piece of Ypsilanti’s identity,” said Virginia Shannon of Environment Michigan. “By setting bold goal now, Ypsilanti can tap into its vast solar potential to reduce pollution from dirty energy sources and build a thriving local economy.”
Ypsilanti gets more sunlight than Germany — the world’s leader in solar power. There are currently 13 major solar installations in Ypsilanti, including on Corner Brewery, Adams STEM School, and City Hall, but the report suggested Ypsilanti’s brightest days are still ahead.
“Our membership at GLREA includes over 80 Michigan companies involved in renewable energy products or installation. They report a banner year in 2012 and are looking forward to 2013,” said David Konkle. “By adopting an aggressive solar goal of 1,000 solar roofs by 2020, Ypsilanti can assist in the continued growth of solar jobs and industries in Michigan and prepare for a more sustainable energy future.”
Michigan is in the top five states for solar manufacturing and the industry expands, jobs are created for skilled workers from the auto industry and clean energy programs like at EMU. The report explains that when many homeowners and institutions in a community “go solar,” the local economic benefits are often magnified as demand for trained solar energy installers increases, home values increase, and city revenue increases from building permits.
Solar power has already proven to be a good investment for local businesses. “As a small business owner trying to control costs and forecast for the future, using solar energy technology has made a huge difference,” said Matt Greff of Corner Brewery. “It feels really good to know that we were able to make changes that are as good for the environment as they are for the bottom line.”
Corinne Sikorski added that for the Ypsilanti Food Co-op, “Solar energy was a natural progression in our efforts to be an ethical business working in a manner to be good stewards of the environment. The co-op continues to grow and advocate for organic foods and energy that are beneficial to people and the environment.”
Dave Strenski noted that, “Ypsilanti is fast becoming a "Solar Destination", the place to come to see and learn about solar power. Not only does solar power benefit a healthier environment, but it is easy to attach to a building, a good investment and has given Ypsilanti residents a source of pride and attracted visitors to our city.”