Western Michigan University has taken a major step to contribute to the creation of renewable energy in Michigan. WMU's partnership with Consumers Energy has opened a new solar power plant on campus.

Consumers Energy today announced that it has started operations at its second solar power plant. The solar power plant is located on 8.5 acres at Western Michigan University.

“We are pleased to work with Western Michigan University and the public to provide energy from new, renewable sources right here in our state,” said Dan Malone, Consumers Energy’s senior vice president of energy resources.

The 1-megawatt solar power plant on Western Michigan University property is the energy provider’s second large-scale solar project in Michigan, joining a 3-megawatt solar power plant that opened at Grand Valley State University in April.

“Western Michigan University has a longtime commitment to sustainability and helping our state use its resources wisely,” said WMU President John M. Dunn. “This new facility will allow us to contribute immediately to the production of sustainable energy for Michigan and serve in the long term as an example for how partnership and innovation can be used to meet the important interests of our community.”

The two solar power plants are part of Consumers Energy’s Solar Gardens program. Participants who subscribe to Solar Gardens will receive a credit on monthly bills based on electricity that’s generated at Solar Gardens locations.

Consumers Energy closed seven coal-fired power plants this year. They operate two wind farms, one near Lake Michigan and one in the Thumb, and contracts to buy energy generated by wind, landfill gas, anaerobic digestion and hydroelectric generation.