December 5, 2022


World Travel Service

Renewable power tour informs, evokes planners

Renewable power tour informs, evokes planners

A bus tour of Michigan renewable power initiatives for volunteer planning commissioners {and professional} planners this summer season planted seeds that proceed to bear fruit. About 30 planners visited Meeting Photo voltaic Park in Shiawassee County and the Isabella Wind Challenge in Clare in a tour coordinated by the Ann Arbor-based Michigan Affiliation of Planning (MAP) and funded by the Michigan Division of Surroundings, Nice Lakes, and Vitality (EGLE) as a part of its Catalyst Communities program.

Renewable power tour informs, evokes planners

Planners go to Meeting Photo voltaic Park in Shiawassee County. (Photograph courtesy of Kathleen J. Kline-Hudson)


Rob Stanford, principal planner on the Livingston County Division of Planning, discovered the expertise so informative that he was impressed to duplicate it simply two months later, with assist from planning colleagues Kathleen Kline-Hudson and Scott Barb. The trio invited greater than 25 township board members and planning commissioners from principally rural Livingston County communities which were contacted just lately by photo voltaic firms searching for personal lease agreements.

“I assumed it will be a novel alternative if we at Livingston County Planning might manage the planning commissioners and trustees from Conway, Cohoctah, and different western-tier communities to go to the power in a similar way,” Stanford mentioned. “This journey had taught me a lot about this expertise, I needed to have the ability to share it with as lots of our area people leaders as potential.”

Dr. Sarah Mills, professor and senior undertaking supervisor on the College of Michigan’s Graham Sustainability Institute, organized the June tour. For seven years, Mills has helped communities throughout the state contemplate power of their land use planning, zoning, and different policymaking. The tour was the ultimate piece of a bigger collaborative undertaking Mills and her crew led together with colleagues at Michigan State College Extension (MSU-E), accomplished in partnership with MAP and supported by EGLE.

First, MSU-E and U-M Graham employees developed “Planning & Zoning for Photo voltaic Vitality Techniques,” a guidebook to assist Michigan communities turn into solar-ready by addressing photo voltaic power methods inside their insurance policies and laws. Subsequent, the undertaking crew educated native authorities officers and planning commissioners via webinars and in-person workshops in Might and June 2022. Lastly, the crew invited webinar and workshop attendees to the tour. The aim was to demystify renewables for these concerned of their siting.

The overarching undertaking exemplifies the ripple impact of small efforts borne out of massive intentions. For EGLE, serving to communities with siting concerns is a key a part of attaining the MI Wholesome Local weather Plan aim of a affluent carbon-neutral future for Michigan. Plans are within the works to offer focused coaching in no less than two different areas in Michigan that participated in the identical coaching that impressed Stanford and his colleagues. Mills plans to provide an instruction guide for different organizations and municipalities searching for a train-the-trainer renewable power curriculum, and neighboring states like Indiana have already expressed curiosity.

“Sarah Mills is an incredible educator,” Stanford mentioned. “I believe the entire expertise opened plenty of eyes and alleviated some potential beforehand held biases and issues with our locals. It helped them see that with good laws and sound planning and zoning strategies and instruments, the undesirable points of a photo voltaic improvement will be significantly minimized, and it shouldn’t be detrimental to you or your neighborhood.”