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Former mine sites in Michigan to be repurposed as large-scale solar power operations

Department of Natural Resources partners with Circle Power

Solar energy
Solar energy

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources awarded Circle Power of Royal Oak a 5-year lease agreement to develop solar arrays on two former mine sites.

The two sites include the Groveland Mine in Dickinson County. It’s a former 347-acre iron mine tailings site gifted to the state. The other site is 7 Mile Pit in Crawford County. It’s a 169-acre property previously use for sand and gravel mining the state acquired through tax reversion.

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“Enabling opportunities for cost-effective, renewable energy is good for the environment, for Michigan’s beautiful outdoor spaces, and for the people of Michigan,” said DNR Director Dan Eichinger. “Our department is entrusted with taking the best possible care of the state’s natural resources and creating quality outdoor experiences. It is just as important that we do our part to foster the development of renewable energy sources that will provide new sources of power for northern Michigan, increase local tax bases and repurpose old mining sites for greater public benefit.”

The projects will be developed through Circle Power’s affiliate, Copper Country Power I, LLC. Circle Power is backed by Amber Infrastructure and its U.S. parent, Hunt Companies, Inc.

The energy produced at the sites would be meant to help supplement, or help to replace, current nonrenewable forms of energy generation. That includes oil, gas and other fossil fuels.

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“We look forward to working with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources on the 7 Mile Pit and Groveland Mine projects,” said Jordan Roberts, managing partner at Circle Power. “This is an important opportunity to provide low-cost power to Michigan residents while supporting the state’s renewable energy goals.”

How long will construction take?

Officials said it’s unclear how long it would be before construction of the arrays would be completed.

The sites are located on land used by industry and were left in a degraded condition. Officials said building large-scale solar arrays on the property would mean they have to revitalized the underused places.

“The potential development of two former mining sites for large-scale solar power, in my opinion, checks all the boxes,” said John A. Kinch, executive director of Michigan Energy Options. “The siting doesn’t negatively affect the natural lands and waters the DNR manages and, further, it is a great reuse of industrial legacy properties. It doesn’t affect private landholdings. What the project does do is to drive the creation of more clean, renewable energy in Michigan, with the DNR leading by example. My nonprofit is excited to be working on these and future projects with the DNR.”

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