Traverse City Switching to 100% Renewable Energy

Traverse City is known for its beauty, and city officials want to protect that from the inside out by switching to 100% green energy.

Municipal buildings will be completely powered by solar and wind energy by 2020. Traverse City Light and Power will use 40% renewables by 2025, and be completely green by 2040.

“Traverse City, for decades, has been concerned about climate change and renewable energies,” said mayor Jim Carruthers. “We don’t need the coal plants anymore, we can do this with renewables.”

The city is focusing its efforts on mainly solar power and some wind power. They’re expanding local solar operations and sourcing additional power from farms downstate.

Currently, a field of solar panels on M-72 supply one megawatt of power, but Traverse City Light and Power board members voted to expand operations to three megawatts.

“This latest project provides more than half of [the city municipal building] energy needs,” said Tim Werner, city commissioner and board member for Traverse City Light and Power. “I would anticipate that reaching our 2025 goal will almost exclusively be through solar power.”

With the current set up, the city would need to source energy from 100 solar farms that size to operate.

The city also harvests wind energy from the turbine nearby. The turbine, installed in 1996, was the state’s first commercial wind turbine owned by a municipal utility company.

Mayor Carruthers says switching to clean energy is important for the sustainability of the community.

“People come here for a clean, ‘up north’ vacation and lifestyle, so we should model that ourselves in governing this city and how we run our city,” said Carruthers.

For now, Traverse City is sourcing much of their clean energy supply from solar panels downstate. They are discussing the possibility of building more solar panels locally.