West Michigan Center for Ecological
Design and Renewable Energy Systems
Important Action Item: Support Net Metering in Michigan!
Net metering allows utility company customers to offset their electric consumption with power they generate themselves through a renewable energy generator, such as solar panels or a small wind turbine.
When the renewable energy generator is providing electricity, the customer’s meter actually runs backwards, offsetting the energy that is provided to the customer when it is not generating power.
The customer is only billed for the “net” energy usage — the amount of electricity delivered by the utility in excess of the amount produced by the renewable energy system.
At least 36 other states offer net metering to their residents — but not Michigan.
Net metering will encourage the installation of renewable energy systems in Michigan, because it will allow renewable energy systems to use the electrical grid as a storage system, rather than forcing users to install costly battery systems.
An Entire Journey Begins with a Single Step
A portable, solar-photovoltaic system lights the way to the Concord Grove Conference Room. During the day sunlight is turned into electricity by a pair of solar photovoltaic panels. A sophisticated solar charge controller monitors conditions, maintains the correct battery voltage, and prevents the battery from becoming over-charged. The controller displays the charge level of the battery system, the battery voltage, the level of incoming solar energy, and the level of electricity being used by appliances. In the small demonstration system shown above, an inverter transforms the electricity from the battery into 120 AC household current, which is then used to power lighting and appliances. Click on above photo for a close-up of the portable system.
West Michigan Center for Ecological Design and Renewable Energy Systems
The Concord Grove Educational Center now hosts a resource center for ecological design and renewable energy systems.
Working in conjunction with groups and individuals on both a local and national level, the educational center sponsors programs on ecological design and architecture, green building practices, solar-photovoltaic systems, wind power, and strategies for improving energy efficiency in both homes and businesses.
The educational center is developing a resource library of books and videos on ecological design and renewable energy systems that will be available to the public and to educators in West Michigan.
We are also applying for a grant that will allow us to install a hybrid solar-photovoltaic and wind generator system that will power lighting in the educational center’s conference room and will allow individuals and visiting classes to see, in a hands-on way, how renewable energy systems operate in the real world and in our local community.
Over the next two years, we are planning to construct a small, ultra-efficient guest house, using readily available building materials, that will be powered by solar and wind energy. The guest house will be used as a laboratory to study and demonstrate energy-efficient construction and solar energy systems, and will be used as housing for guest speakers at the educational center.