Navigate Up
Sign In


    A new major Grand Rapids Solar Reuse Project promises to save the government agency $200,000 or more in annual energy costs.

    The Grand Rapids City Commission today authorized City staff to begin negotiations with American Capital Energy (ACE) for a long term power purchase agreement and land lease arrangement for a solar facility at the former Butterworth Acres landfill site. 

    In November 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-funded Solar Reuse Feasibility Study for the Butterworth Acres Superfund determined that it was feasible to utilize the site for solar energy. In the past two years, the City evaluated several options for utilizing the solar energy produced at the site before identifying the adjacent Wastewater Treatment site as the most cost effective option.

    According to Dr. Haris Alibašić, Grand Rapids’ energy and sustainability director, the Wastewater Treatment plant costs average .0883 per kilowatt hour (kWh).  After reviewing other bids for similar solar installations the kWh cost for a power purchase agreement would likely be lower than the City’s current average power costs, which could amount to $200,000 - $300,000 in electricity cost savings per year. There is no upfront cost to the City and there will be only minimal attributable staff and consulting services costs related to this project. 

    An evaluation team consisting of City staff, the EPA, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and the Butterworth Site Group (BSG) carefully evaluated six proposals received through an RFP process and rated ACE the highest overall due to their per kWh price, potential savings to the Wastewater Treatment plant, and their experience building similar facilities on former landfills. 

    Mike Lunn, environmental services manager with the City of Grand Rapids, said the Butterworth Solar project, “represents a fantastic opportunity to use renewable energy to reduce the cost of turning wastewater into clean water.”