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Hartland School Board Approves Construction on Possible Solar Energy Farm

With a unanimous approval vote, plans for the DTE farm will now be considered by the Hartland Township Board.

The Hartland school board voted unanimously to approve a DTE Energy site plan for a possible solar-energy farm on three acres of land near Hartland High School.

While the lease agreement would give Hartland Schools $15,000 a year for the land use, Assistant Superintendent Scott Bacon said there were also many educational benefits for Hartland students.

With an educational area designed into the site plans, science students would be given the opportunity to study the solar powered panels. DTE will also provide a mobile kiosk in the school that will give interactive information available for student learning.

As the first Michigan Green School and a wind turbine for educational purposes already approved by the township, Bacon says that adding this new renewable energy source in Hartland will only add to the district’s “green” reputation.

“That’s what we hope,” Bacon said. “If kids are seeing examples of renewable energy around them then maybe that will mean something as we go forward.” 

Although approved, school board vice president Thom Dumond expressed some concern over the visibility of the ground design which would be located on the corner of Hartland and Dunham Road.

“This is going to have a significant impact on that corner in Hartland,” Dumond said. “When you come over the top of that hill now in Hartland, this is the first thing you’re going to see. You won’t be seeing our buildings, you won’t be seeing the village, you’ll be seeing this large solar collector.

“I think everything needs to be done as much as possible to screen this,” Dumond said.

With the school board approving the agreement, DTE will now need approval from the Hartland Township before construction could begin.

Superintendent Jan Sifferman requested that several school board members be present during meetings with the township planning commission to ensure that the school board is satisfied with the final site plans to achieve appropriate screening measures for the solar panels.

Energy from the solar-energy farm has the potential to power approximately 100 DTE customer homes and if Hartland Township approves the plan, construction on the project would begin this spring and be completed by September 2013.

Gary Cornillaud November 13, 2012 at 01:32 PM
I hope the Township looks at this closely. I am not sure removing the little remaining natural area in that part of the school property is environmentally or publicly responsible despite being described as "green", and a "educational opportunity". Frankly, as a commercial property owner in the village, I find this decision very disappointing.
Todd November 13, 2012 at 02:17 PM
I agree with Thom Dumond, that a natural barrier can be around the fenced in area to disguise this from the roads. One of the "sample" photos has some...
Laura Bickel November 13, 2012 at 03:41 PM
I don't know all the details about the environmental factors of that site, so I cannot full comment on that. I do know that Hartland Planning Commission and Livingston County Commission have not always fully embraced protection of some of the fragile environmental areas around us. But, I do have to say creative site planning can make this a beautiful area, enhance teaching opportunities, and perhaps broaden the environmental mindset of the area. Not to mention that there have been some really creative, artistic use of solar panels. http://www.lope.ca/artrenewable/index.html Some really cool things are happening in the world of solar panels. http://www.greenlivingonline.com/article/not-your-parents-solar-panels And maybe one day an artist will be able to paint a mural on those panels to further enhance their function and visual impact. http://goodcleantech.pcmag.com/solar-energy/292002-solar-cells-you-can-paint-on. Now if we could just move Hartland further toward the mind set of Philadelphia's progressive attitude on pervious pavement, green roofs, etc. http://cityofphiladelphia.wordpress.com/2011/05/10/mayor-nutter-unveils-philadelphia’s-first-porous-green-street/ and http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/06/120606/philadelphia-storm-water-runoff/ and especially http://www.phila.gov/green/PDFs/GW2012Report.pdf But, that would require a number of mind shifts.
Barbara Krueger November 13, 2012 at 09:00 PM
It seems there is about the same square footage on the roofs of the high school, Ore Creek, Creekside and Village Elementary.......to remove all the vegetation from that corner will be visually offensive and shortly nearby residents will be complaining about all the wildlife in their yards.....or look at the back of the Township Hall property.....solar panels there would not be visible from the road.
Angela November 15, 2012 at 02:45 PM
The cost of construction plus the cost of rent plus the costs of maintenance would seem to exceed the cost to power 100 homes. The kids might be better off studying economics.
Tom Tyson January 14, 2013 at 04:59 PM
My guess there is a pament to the school from the Feds or DTE. Same reason most of the cell towers are on city property not private, I agree with Angela

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