The Executive Committee of the Michigan Schools Energy Cooperative (MISEC) is pleased to announce that we have signed a letter of intent with NorthStar Clean Energy, a CMS Energy company, to design and develop a solar farm that will provide clean, renewable energy to our members currently participating in the Electric Choice program.
- A long-term, Michigan-based, and MISEC-branded solar energy generating asset.
- Located on 380 acres in Genesee County, at US-475 and Carpenter Road.
- A 50-megawatt (MW) single-axis solar asset, providing ~93 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) annually of green power and renewable energy credits exclusively to Michigan Schools.
- Construction will begin in fall 2023, with commercial operation expected in June 2025.
This solar farm is a major step forward for MISEC and its members, all of whom face several challenges including rising energy costs, the need to reduce environmental impact and creating a more sustainable future for our students. The MISEC Choice Solar Farm will help us address these challenges.
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
A 15-year commitment seems long; Are the energy costs locked in for the duration of the contract?
Yes, the rate for the chosen percentage of participation the district selects will be fixed for 15 years beginning ~ June 2025.
Are there options for shorter terms?
No. Given the construction and financing associated with this project, 15 years is the shortest term we could achieve.
Can a district change its participation percentage in the future?
Districts cannot lower their participation commitment. Depending on interest and capacity there may be an option to increase participation – MISEC will clarify with NorthStar if and how this may be possible.
The solar farm is projected to provide a small portion of the total amount of electricity the whole group requires, so how much would be allocated to each district?
Each district will decide its percentage commitment. NorthStar has committed to allocating all output as necessary to meet the overall commitment. Should the demand exceed the output of the Genesee County installation, NorthStar is prepared to commit to a second project.
What if the solar farm fails or runs into issues during the 15-year contract period? What are the potential impacts to energy costs?
The agreement between NorthStar and MISEC allows for liquidated damages should the project fail or not produce as needed. NorthStar will continue to provide energy at the contracted rate for the full 15 years.
What if the solar farm becomes more expensive to operate?
The agreement is for a fixed price for 15 years; therefore, districts are insulated from any increases.
Will the districts or MISEC be responsible in any way, shape or form for the deconstruction of the solar farm once it’s outlived its life expectancy?
No. NorthStar owns and operates the array. MISEC will be buying output without any further obligation as it pertains to the physical asset.
Are the savings guaranteed?
The savings are not guaranteed, as we cannot predict electricity costs. However, in the webinar presentation, there is an example (from an independent third-party) showing where electric prices are projected to be over the life of the contract.
Will the district be signing a contract, or is the approved Board resolution the contract with MISEC?
The MISEC Interlocal Agreement authorizes MISEC to enter into agreements on behalf of its members. However, given the term of this agreement (15 years), the MISEC Executive Committee decided that it would be prudent to get the district’s approval before proceeding.
What happens if a district revokes its membership in MISEC before the 15-year period is up?
As a party to the master agreement, the district portion of the agreement would be assigned directly to the district.
What happens if our Board does not sign/approve the Resolution?
Nothing. The district would remain a member of MISEC and MISEC will continue to purchase electricity as currently done, entering 1–3-year agreements with various fossil fuel generators.
What if the district dissolves and is absorbed by another district?
Under the Electric Choice program, individual buildings participate in the program. Therefore, no matter what district “owns” the building it would remain tied to the agreement. However, if the building were to close, the agreement with NorthStar, in its current draft form, allows the building to close without penalty with a 60-day notice.