June 26, 2018 Read More →

Michigan sees solar potential in contaminated properties

Energy News Network:

Michigan officials are exploring the potential for solar energy projects on tax-forfeited properties where there is no interest from developers for other uses. A state land bank in Michigan owns more than 4,500 properties that were obtained through tax foreclosure. Many of them are undesirable due to contamination.

“What makes solar such a great solution is there is very little disruption to the land” that would cause contamination to spread, said Josh Burgett, director of Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority.

Many of the sites aren’t suitable for solar, such as the nearly 1,500 parcels around Detroit, because they are too small, scattered or in residential neighborhoods. But officials have identified about 40 properties in the state land bank’s inventory where renewable energy might be the best use.

The Center for Community Progress, founded by Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee, estimates there are 170 land banks across the U.S., with the greatest number in Michigan, Ohio and New York. Michigan has land banks in 40 counties and the city of Detroit.

If Michigan governmental units decline to buy tax foreclosures, properties go to public auction twice. If they remain unsold and declined again, they are transferred to a land bank. In Michigan, the entire tax foreclosure process takes three years.

So far, no solar developments have taken place on land bank-owned properties in Michigan, but Burgett and others are optimistic that might change, especially in light of Consumers Energy’s announcement this month that it will seek to develop more than 6,000 megawatts of solar by 2040.

More: In Michigan, unwanted properties could see new life with solar projects

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