JACKSON (WWJ) — Consumers Energy has selected 31 solar-powered projects offered by businesses, homeowners and nonprofit groups across Michigan’s Lower Peninsula to supply renewable energy to customers.

The suppliers were chosen as part of the company’s Experimental Advanced Renewable Program. The program provides for the long-term purchase of renewable energy generated by solar energy systems owned by electric customers.

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“Consumers Energy is working to develop energy supply plans for the future, and that includes adding solar energy to our balanced approach,” said Timothy Sparks, Consumers Energy vice president of energy supply operations. “These newest projects speak to that work, joining contracts for more than 200 customer-owned solar projects that we have in place.”

Fifteen non-residential customer projects in nine counties were selected during the program’s most recent phase. The projects, ranging in size from 5 to 150 kilowatts, will provide 663 kilowatts of electric capacity.

Sixteen residential customer projects in 12 counties — Barry, Clare, Clinton, Eaton, Gladwin, Isabella, Jackson, Kent, Livingston, Midland, Ottawa and Shiawassee — also were selected. The projects, ranging in size from 2 to 18 kilowatts, will provide 177 kilowatts of electric capacity.

The next phase of the EARP will open Jan. 2 for residential customers. Applications will be available at http://www.consumersenergy.com/EARP after Jan. 2. Applications must be received by 5 p.m. Feb. 5 to be considered.

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Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.6 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

Non-residential solar projects selected by Consumers Energy include Allegan U Stor Corp II, Allegan County; Alma Housing Commission, Gratiot County; Almond Products Inc., Ottawa County (2); Benchley Brothers, Isabella County; Davenport University, Kent County; Edgewood Village Non-profit Housing Corp., Ingham County; Eldean Co., Ottawa County; Gold Coast Outfitters LLC, Ottawa County; High Point Electric, Kent County; J. Ranck Electric, Genesee County; One Stop Shop, Jackson County; River Ridge Dairy Co. Inc., Ottawa County; Roskam Baking Co., Kent County; and Space Studios LLC, Midland County

Consumers Energy will host an information session about the EARP from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Jan. 8 at the Burnham Brook Community Center, 200 W. Michigan Ave, Battle Creek. This event is open to the public.

Electric customers, renewable energy installers and anyone interested in customer-installed solar generating systems are encouraged to attend. To RSVP or for more information about the program, visit http://www.ConsumersEnergy.com/EARP.

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For more information about Consumers Energy, visit us at http://www.consumersenergy.com or join us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/consumersenergymichigan .