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New way for companies to invest in renewable energy gets five solar projects off the ground in MI

solar power station green electricity panel view
Mark Agnor/agnormark - stock.adobe.com
Workers at a solar power station.

A group of eight companies outside Michigan has pooled their money to invest in five new solar projects in the state.

The concept is a new way to get more companies involved in the transition to clean energy. The pooled investments are managed by a company called Watershed.

Matt Konieczny is Watershed's head of Clean Power. He said Watershed helps companies that want to reduce their carbon footprint find nearly shovel-ready renewable projects that need outside investment in the form of guaranteed revenues to get off the ground.

"[These are] projects that are not quite economically viable," said Konieczny, "and we've been helping our customers support those projects, get new clean power onto the grid and that then allows them to reduce their corporate emissions."

Konieczny said Watershed sees a huge potential for the concept to maximize corporate involvement in the transition to clean energy — not just in U.S. states like Michigan that have ambitious clean energy plans, but globally. Some of Watershed's customers have invested in a solar project in India, he said, adding that he hopes the company's work helps cut through some of the "doom and gloom" around climate.

"We think there's a real opportunity here for corporations to drive the transformation in switching to renewables and decarbonizing our economy," Konieczny said.

The five projects will add about 100 MW of solar energy to Michigan's grid; that's enough to serve about 16,000 households. The solar projects are in Oscoda, Calhoun, Jackson, Kent and Gladwin counties.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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