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Solar panels could be coming soon to East Lansing's Department of Public Works building

Jadon Kelly

East Lansing plans to install solar panels to help power the city's Department of Public Works building.

The city's earmarked $220,000 in federal funding from its $12 million American Rescue Plan Act allocation for the project's first phase.

ARPA money, intended to counter the economic hardships of the coronavirus pandemic, can be spent on a broad range of uses including investing in infrastructure and offsetting revenue loss.

The project still needs to go out for bids, but East Lansing Engineering Administrator Nicole McPherson hopes panels are installed as soon as this fall on vacant land owned by the city adjacent to the Public Works building on State Road.

She acknowledged delays are possible, however, because of supply chain and labor shortages.

The panels could cut down the facility's electricity use by 40% with the potential to expand, according to a city budget proposal.

The DPW building uses an average of 24,396 kilowatt-hours each month, costing about $40,464 a year, according to a feasibility study commissioned by the city from Michigan Energy Options.

Solar energy generation doesn't emit the carbon dioxide that contributes to global warming, and McPherson says these latest plans align with East Lansing's strategic goals.

"We're always looking at the ways that we can offset our energy costs and, obviously, provide a cleaner environment," she said.

Officials are also exploring adding solar-powered lights to city streets and the Northern Tier Trail.

Corrected: June 6, 2022 at 11:26 AM EDT
A previous version of the story incorrectly named the organization that completed a feasibility study for the city. It is Michigan Energy Options.
Sarah Lehr is a politics and civics reporter for WKAR News.
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