Solar panels on the Big House?

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Renewable power might be what the Wolverines need, advocates say

Generating power with solar panels on Michigan Stadium would have major symbolic value as well as give support to the state’s growing solar energy industry, according to a group gathering signatures on a petition this fall.

“Installing solar panels will make an incredible statement on behalf of the University of Michigan, the city of Ann Arbor and college football that we’re serious about getting off fossil fuels,” according to Monica Patel, policy specialist at the Ecology Center and coordinator of Ann Arbor 350, an effort to address global climate change through action at the local level.

Big House“The Big House has the potential to be the biggest athletic venue in North America with solar panels, which is fitting with the University’s claim to be ‘the leaders and the best’,” Patel said. “Even though the electricity generated won’t solve the climate crisis, it will go a long way in terms of solar energy education and awareness.”

In 2009, U-M students completed a feasibility assessment of a stadium solar project, estimating that an installation could divert 776 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

“Another very real benefit is the boost this installation will provide to the Michigan solar energy industry, which includes 121 solar power supply chain businesses,” Patel said. Michigan’s solar power industry employs more than 6,300 people, ranking the state fourth in the nation.

The petition, which is addressed to U-M President Mary Sue Coleman, athletic director David Brandon and Terry Alexander, director of campus sustainability initiatives, is being circulated online. Supporters also plan to seek signatures at Michigan football games this fall.

Ann Arbor 350, a project of the Ecology Center, is connected with an international campaign to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis; scientists say 350 parts per million is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

For more information, contact: Monica Patel 734-369-9277

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