New program brings renewable energy to low income customers

Mar 13, 2018

Several energy customers in northwest lower Michigan are participating in the state’s first program focused on renewable energy and energy waste reduction for low-income customers.


With the help from the Michigan Agency for Energy (MAE), Cherryland Electric Cooperative is facilitating a pilot program to help low-income customers reduce their energy bills through savings generated by solar panels. Participating households received a nine panel share in the Spartan Solar community solar array in Cadillac.

Judy Palnau is the spokeswoman for MAE.

She said fifty low-income households were chosen for the pilot program.

“The Cherryland Electric worked with the Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency on identifying households that were eligible,” Palnau said. “Not only because they were low-income but because also they’ve had some energy waste reduction or energy efficiency work done.”

The households have received shares from the Spartan Solar community array in Cadillac.

“They will get nine shares from that array. They will be getting a monthly bill credit of 10 cents per kilowatt hour based on the output of those panels,” she said. “Which is expected to be $350 every year. They could be seeing their electric bills cut up to 33 percent.”

Palnau says this is important because low-income households generally spend a larger share of their income on energy for their homes.

“It’s the first of its kind in the state of Michigan. One that will be helping low-income customers of the Cherryland Cooperative, which covers a six county area in Northern Michigan,” she said. “Those customers will be benefiting from renewable energy and energy waste reduction efforts.”

Palnau says the program will cover six counties in northwest lower Michigan including Leelanau, Grand Traverse, and Kalkaska counties.