Innovative Solar Project in Marquette Township Funded by Cannabis Excise Taxes

April 30th, 2024 Environment & Sustainability
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Marquette Township in Michigan has recently unveiled an innovative, ground-mounted solar energy system (SES) at the township hall, funded partly by state cannabis excise tax revenues. This initiative is part of the township's broader efforts to embrace sustainability and use unexpected fiscal benefits for community improvement projects.

Installed by Peninsula Solar, the system was designed with the unique challenges of northern climates in mind. The 20.16 kW solar array features a proprietary racking system that allows it to tilt on a vertical axis, facilitating snow shedding in winter and maximizing energy production year-round. The bifacial panels employed in the system can absorb light from both sides, enhancing the output by capturing reflected light from the snowy ground.

The SES project was made financially feasible through a federal program that offers a 30% direct reimbursement to municipal and non-profit organizations installing solar energy systems. Marquette Township's decision to allocate unanticipated cannabis tax revenue towards this project underscores an innovative approach to utilizing these funds. These revenues, derived from the local licensed cannabis facilities, are not regularly included in the township's budget, providing a flexible financial resource for beneficial community-oriented projects.

Jon Kangas, the Marquette Township manager, emphasized that such projects, while highly desirable, typically fall outside the essential needs category. By channeling these additional funds into the SES, the township aims to decrease long-term energy costs at the township hall, thereby extending financial benefits to taxpayers.

The investment in the solar system is expected to yield a return within 10 to 14 years. Additionally, the system includes 3-phase inverters that facilitate grid interconnection, allowing the township to feed excess power back to the local power grid and receive credits, further enhancing the project's sustainability and cost-effectiveness.

Furthermore, the township plans to cultivate native plant species around the township hall to protect the new panels and promote ecological sustainability. These efforts reflect Marquette Township's commitment to both environmental stewardship and fiscal prudence, using innovative funding solutions to benefit the community.

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