Board nixes plans for solar power at township hall

Board says now is not the time for solar power.
Solar panels at the Felt Estate.

The Laketown Township board has turned out the lights on a proposed solar power project at the township hall.

The board agreed in a workshop session on Wednesday, April 5, to end discussion and take no action on a proposal to install 48 solar panels adjacent to the township hall, 4338 Beeline Road, for a total cost of more than $53,000 after tax rebates. The panels would have powered the township offices.

“It doesn’t make sense,” Trustee Jim Delaney said about the proposal, adding that the array doesn’t fit with the surrounding amenities including a baseball field, pickleball court and gazebo.

Clerk Amber Davis agreed, noting that homeowners across the street from the township hall opposed the project.

Trustee Jim Johnson said he is not opposed to solar power but now is not the right time, though the board could look at it again in the future.

“The technology is not there yet,” said Supervisor Linda Howell.

“I think we have a lot of technology coming,” Davis added.

Treasurer Gary Dewey was absent from Wednesday’s meeting.

Original proposal

In January, township Manager Al Meshkin proposed a 21.60-kilowatt system by Harvest Solar of Jackson. The system would pay for itself in about 13 years, according to Meshkin.

The return-on-investment time concerned some residents who spoke against the project over the last two months. Other residents were concerned about the impact the panels would have on their property values because of “this unsightly addition to the neighborhood,” and that the array would change the “tranquil feel” of the multi-use path along Beeline Road.

Meshkin shifted the location of the proposed panels so they would be less visible to path users. He also received more bids upon request from the township board.

Solar power is not new for the township.

In 2015, a 100-kilowatt array was installed at the Felt Estate, 6597 138th Ave., to take advantage of tax credits that were then available. There have been few problems with that system, Meshkin said.