Consumers Energy Solar Gardens

Allendale, MI and Kalamazoo, MI

In 2016, J. Ranck Electric (JRE) completed the construction of a 3 MW ground mount solar array at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) and a 1 MW ground mount solar array at Western Michigan University (WMU). The arrays are owned and operated by the Michigan utility company Consumers Energy. This project was a two-part project forming a Community Solar Garden where Consumers Energy utility customers can purchase a portion of the array to aid the utility in its effort to attain higher percentages of energy from renewable energy sources. These projects were Consumers Energy’s first major solar array installations in Michigan.

During the construction of the first array at GVSU, JRE worked with Consumers to establish procedures and protocols for future expansion into the solar arena while constructing these high priority project that required close monitoring and communication between J. Ranck Electric personnel, Consumers Energy, and the Consumers Energy contracted engineering oversight company Nova Consultants. Installing this array in a muddy 17-acre field, JRE crews worked through challenging site conditions and a project schedule that overlapped winter in an area of Michigan that averages over 60 inches of snowfall a year. JRE crews persevered with zero recorded accidents in this tough environment.

Located near the engineering building at WMU, the Kalamazoo array is divided by a roadway and is constructed in two sections. Installation of the solar components were completed in a high visibility area of campus where construction was constantly viewed by students, staff, and the motoring public along I-94. JRE was tasked with far more civil work than is normal for a typical solar installation including directional boring and drainage improvements.

Project Details

GVSU Project Details
Location: Allendale, MI
System Size: 3.712 MW DC / 3MW AC
Panels: (11,250) Suniva Optimus 330 W
Racking: Mounting Systems Racking
Inverter: (125) SMA 24 kW String Inverters

WMU Project Details
Location: Kalamazoo, MI
System Size: 1.277 MW DC / 1.03 MW AC
Panels: (3,870) Suniva Optimus 330 W
Racking: Mounting Systems Racking
Inverter: (44) SMA 24 kW String Inverters