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Stanton approves solar farm application

STANTON — Renewable energy may soon be coming to the city of Stanton.

The land at 665 N. State St., which is a 44-acre parcel southwest of the Montcalm County Circuit Complex, has been approved for a special land use application. That application will see Renergetica, a renewable energy company based in Italy, use the space for a solar farm. — DN Photo | Brandon Schreur

Stanton City Manager Vester Davis told the Stanton City Commission on June 25 that the Planning Commission recently approved a special land use application for Renergetica, a renewable energy company based in Genoa, Italy, and founded in 2008.

“We had a public hearing and consideration of a special land use application and site plan for a solar farm,” Davis said. “The Planning Commission has reviewed that site plan. They asked a few questions and ultimately approved that special land use application.”

The site approved for Renergetica’s solar farm is located at 665 N. State St., a 44-acre parcel just southwest of the Montcalm County Court Complex.

“That area is vacant or used for farmland right now, but I believe they’re looking at about 8,000 solar panel modules,” Davis told the Daily News.

According to Davis, Renergetica’s timeline as to when installation might begin is still up in the air given the amount of steps they need to take with the state. The permit that Renergetica received from the city is good for one year, meaning the company will likely try to move forward soon.

“They’d either have to request for an extension or re-apply for the permit for anything longer than that,” Davis said.

The city’s partnership with Renergetica has been in the works since the beginning of 2019, when the company initially expressed interest in the location. The Montcalm County Board of Commissioners in March approved a solar and wind permit fee schedule as proposed by the Montcalm County Building Department.

“We’ve been trying to get everything in order — that being the documents we needed for the Planning Commission, the steps in applying for permits, etc.,” Davis said. “This is kind of in line with what’s happening in Montcalm County when it comes to renewable energy, and we’re excited.”

Commissioner Jane Basom noted that the development might bring an additional financial benefit to the city.

“I know that we were talking way back about the benefit this might end up having to the city,” she said. “We assumed it was in taxable value of that parcel going up. (I was) just wondering if we were able to estimate what revenue that could bring to the city, based on the proposed value?”

While Davis didn’t have those exact figures at the time of the meeting, he did tell the Daily News he sees a solar farm within the city limits as an overall asset to Stanton.

“The possibility of a slight increase in taxable value is still being discussed or investigated as to what it could be. The bigger benefit, I think, is that the city of Stanton is participating in the renewable energy industry,” he explained. “Having a local solar farm development within the city limits is something we want to be a part of … Solar (energy) is out there, it’s being talked about in the county and state level, so being involved in that is something we’re definitely interested in.”

Mayor Lori Williams agreed regarding the advantages a solar farm in Stanton might provide.

“The benefits include being eco-friendly and creating energy in that kind of way,” she said. “I don’t see this being a problem for the surrounding neighbors — nobody showed up at the planning commission to speak against it — and I’m excited that we’re moving forward with an eco-friendly environment.”

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