Burns & McDonnell begins construction on Consumers Energy’s 250MWac Michigan PV project

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Consumers Energy aims to connect 8GW of solar capacity by 2040. Image: Consumers Energy.

US engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) company Burns & McDonnell has started construction on Consumers Energy’s 297MWdc/250MWac solar project in the US state of Michigan.

The Muskegon Solar Energy Center is the utility’s first utility-scale project, and Burns & McDonnell expects to complete construction work in 2026. The company has announced a number of technical specifications and equipment for the new project, which will use Series 7 modules from First Solar, a thin film cadmium telluride (CdTe) range of modules; trackers from Array Technologies and inverters from German firm Siemens Gamesa.

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Burns & McDonnell’s work at the project includes site permitting and substation construction, and has noted that it is working with union labour to complete construction.

“We are excited to work with local trades and union halls across Michigan to build out solar within the state,” said Drew Powers, construction project manager at Burns & McDonnell. “This project not only helps Consumers Energy advance in renewable energy but also supports the local economy.”

Consumers Energy’s use of US-made products comes as the federal government has sought to encourage greater domestic manufacturing of renewable energy products and technology through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

Earlier this year, the Department of the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service proposed new regulations to clarify the companies eligible to receive tax credits, such as the production tax credit (PTC) and investment tax credit (ITC) under the IRA.

“Every project we bring online helps lower bills for our customers in the long term while also providing significant tax revenue for the community and better serving our planet,” said Consumers Energy vice president of clean energy development David Hicks. “That’s a win for everyone, and we’re proud to be partnering with Burns & McDonnell to see this project come to fruition.”

The news follows Consumers Energy’s announcement of plans to build 85MW of solar capacity on retired coal-fired power plants in Michigan as it looks to further decarbonise its operations. The utility is aiming to deploy a total of 8GW of solar power by 2040 to offset the lost electricity generation caused by the closure of three coal plants by 2025, 15 years earlier than initially planned.

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