Ypsilanti solar energy supporters take message nationwide
Lisa Carolin | AnnArbor.com
Dave Strenski is the spokesperson on the video and a member of SolarYpsi.
"I'm more of a geek than an environmentalist," said Strenski. "This whole thing started with a small grant at the co-op."
Strenski is referring to the Ypsilanti Food Cooperative, which in 2005 became the first building in Ypsilanti to have solar panels installed. The co-op was among six locations showcased today for the National Solar Tour. The others are the River Street Bakery adjacent to the co-op, Adams S.T.E.M. Academy, Corner Brewery, a rental unit at 403 South Huron, and Ypsilanti City Hall, where Strenski greeted visitors.
"All the sites in Ypsilanti are a little different," said Strenski, who says that his goal is to make Ypsilanti the world's solar power destination.
Strenski worked with Google, which provided free software to monitor power coming through the solar panels at some of the locations. The video is now being broadcast nationwide and can be seen below.
At the Ypsilanti Food Coop today, marketing coordinator and beekeeper Lisa Bashert told visitors that 40 percent of the co-op is run by solar power and 100 percent of the bakery is.
"Co-ops have been green since the beginning, and we believe in educating and serving our customers in the most ethical and environmentally-conscious way," Bashert said.
Another one of the more recent Ypsilanti buildings to install a solar energy system is the Adams Academy, a school with grades K-6 that emphasizes science, technology, engineering and math. The school applied for a solar grant from the Michigan Renewable School Program in 2010 and the solar system was installed and operational this past spring.
A house on South Huron with three apartment units installed 55 solar panels this summer, and this fall, the Corner Brewery won approval from the Ypsilanti Historic Commission to install 144 panels on its brewery on Norris Street, a project that tentatively will be completed by the end of the year.
Strenski says that although Michigan isn't known for getting a lot of sun, even on an overcast day like today there is power being made.
"We have more sun than Germany, and Germany is the world's leader in solar production," he said.
The National Solar Tour is an annual event, and today participants will visit 5,500 buildings in more than 3,000 communities across the U.S.