More Oakland County residents are producing their own electricity than in years prior

It seems that more Oakland County businesses and homeowners are jumping on the green bandwagon in order to save money and be more energy efficient.

According to a 2017 Michigan Public Service Commission report, which tracks on-site renewable energy electric generation, the number of Michiganders who produced their own electricity in 2016 grew by nearly 430 over the previous year. The number of projects grew by 395.

In 2016, Oakland County, which adopted its own Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program in November 2016, there were 342 net metering program customers, according to Nick Assendelft, media relations and public information officer for the Michigan Agency for Energy.

Of that number, 330 used solar power to generate electricity while 12 used wind power. There were 2,582 customers statewide using wind and solar power.

Oakland, Wayne and Washtenaw county had the most net metering customers, solar and wind, in 2016, according to the report conducted by the commission’s electric reliability division.

The county partnered with Lean and Green Michigan to develop the PACE program, which promotes the use of renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements made by property owners while providing for flexible financing options on those improvement projects over 15 to 20 year.

At the time of program implementation, nine county communities had already set up their own PACE program including Southfield, Rochester Hills, Orion Township, Troy, Pontiac, Ferndale.

PACE projects were completed at Powers Distributing in Orion Twp., and Heller Machine Tools in Troy during 2016, according to Andy Levin, president of Lean and Green Michigan.

Levin said when a new jurisdiction, such as Oakland County, joins the program, it takes time before projects can close, with the exception being places where ready-to-go projects cause the jurisdiction to join. That was not the case in the county.

In 2017, very few projects closed, but there was a swelling in the program’s pipeline within the county, according to Levin. He expects the continued use of solar power to juice the county, and region’s, economy.

“It creates lots of jobs, and they’re good jobs, too,” said Levin. “There is huge, pent-up demand to deploy more renewable energy. People like it and want to do it if it makes sense economically. When more electricians and other skilled trades workers put in more hours, they earn more money and plow most of it into restaurants, stores and other bastions of the local economy.”

Most projects submitted for Lean and Green financing take six to eighteen months to close, with some even longer. Levin said based on county projects that were brought to Lean and Green Michigan in 2017, he expects closings early in 2018.

Levin said he’s seeing a significant demand for PACE financing among Oakland County businesses and expects to close around three new projects in 2018.

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