In Michigan and across the country, we are seeing a transformation in how we generate and use electricity. As reported by The Daily Reporter on February 25th, our community is facing a 44-megawatt shortfall of in-state power generation in the coming years, according to the Director of the Coldwater Board of Public Utilities. This shortfall already led to $2.1 million in increased power costs that residents and businesses will bear as ratepayers.
To meet this challenge and provide affordable, clean energy to power Coldwater-area homes and businesses, our community should embrace the proposed Coldwater Solar project in Coldwater and Ovid Townships.
The price of solar energy has fallen by 90% since 2009 and solar is among the cheapest sources of electricity in the country. By using locally generated solar energy, we have the opportunity to bridge that 44-megawatt gap and help control electricity costs with clean, pure Michigan power.
The benefits of a local solar farm go far beyond affordable, locally generated electricity. Coldwater Solar is projected to become one of the region’s largest taxpayers, paying up to $21 million in personal property taxes over the project’s lifetime. That includes over $11 million to support our schools through the Branch Intermediate School District and Coldwater Community Schools and new revenue to support our area libraries, 911 services, senior and veterans’ programs, and transportation. The project will also provide new tax revenue to support our county and township operating budgets.
The project will create new local construction jobs at a time when many Michiganders are looking to get back to work and jump start our economy. Coldwater Solar will mean hundreds of new construction jobs for solar panel installers, electricians, equipment operators, and other skilled trades.
Some might wonder why area farmers and landowners would want to set aside some of their land for solar power. For our families, putting solar on our land is about preserving farmland for future generations. At the end of the project’s lifetime, solar panels will be removed and the land returned to agricultural use with the benefit of decades of rest and rejuvenation thanks to cover crops and plantings that will assist water retention, increase organic matter content, and reduce potential agricultural runoff to our lakes, rivers, and streams from chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and weed killer. In the meantime, harvesting the sun, provides a consistent, drought-resistant crop that is not dependent on commodity prices or trade policy.
By generating Michigan-made electricity, increasing our local tax base, creating good-paying jobs, and supporting local farmers and landowners, Coldwater Solar will be a good neighbor to the residents of Coldwater Township, Ovid Township, and all of Branch County. I hope you will join us in supporting the project and the benefits it will bring to our entire community.
Brian and Tammy Walker, Dean Diller, Mark and Shamayne Neesley, Brian and Nancy Nunemaker, Joe Gaglio, Jim Gaglio, Steve Gaglio, Tom Gaglio, Grace Paul, Sam Gaglio, and Lynn and Tom Cranson are residents and taxpayers of Coldwater and Ovid Townships and participating landowners in the Coldwater Solar Project