Column: Solar project generates regional economic prosperity

ESCANABA — The Delta County Economic Development Alliance (EDA) provides its support for the development of the proposed Chandler Solar Project in Escanaba Township as an economic growth opportunity for the entire Upper Peninsula, Delta County and particularly for the Escanaba Township community.

Construction of the solar farm will provide the opportunity for local construction industry employment and use of the local supplier businesses for construction materials and services. In fact, up to 200 construction jobs are expected to be created followed by four full-time operational jobs once the project is completed.

The Chandler Solar Project will significantly increase Escanaba Township’s property tax base. In its first year, the project will pay property taxers of nearly $1 million to the township representing a 28 percent increase in tax revenue compared to 2018. During the first 25 years of operation, it’s expected that the project will pay more than $10 million in property taxes to the township.

Per a formal agreement signed between the Chandler Solar Project and UPPCO, once constructed the solar farm will provide a source of energy to businesses and residential users across the Upper Peninsula including Delta County and Escanaba Township. This agreement is expected to save UPPCO’s customers over $20 million in energy costs over the next 25 years. While significantly lowering energy cost this also allows for stronger energy independence as it provides a source of renewable, clean and local energy. This directly affects our community’s ability to attract new businesses who demand reliable, affordable and cleaner energy.

This project will play a strong role in the future economic prosperity of our region. It supports Delta County-based jobs, provides our homes and businesses with direct access to renewable energy and supports and generates tax revenues to improve township infrastructure and services. Because of this impact, the Delta County EDA fully supports the development as proposed.

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TJ Thomas is executive director of the Delta County Economic Development Alliance