Traverse City Record-Eagle

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March 4, 2014

Grad students to help Leelanau Twp. switch to renewables

TRAVERSE CITY — Jeremy Good hopes to build a career on renewable energy.

The University of Michigan graduate student has worked on small solar projects but nothing on a larger municipal level. Good found exactly the type of project he’s looking for in Northport, where a group of about two dozen locals hope to power all of Leelanau Township with renewable energy.

“To move toward 100 percent, it’s pretty unique,” Good said.

Good, along with five other graduate students in the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment, will spend a year working with the Northport group to help make their renewable dream a reality. They’ll come up with a plan to make Leelanau Township run on electricity from renewable resources. The plan would make the community one of the first in North America to commit to 100 percent renewable electricity.

“I think it’s really going to put the township and the village on the map as a place of interest,” said Peter Wolcott, a member of the Northport group.

Northport Energy Action Taskforce (Northport Energy) consists of about two dozen local activists committed to sustainability. Northport Energy was one of 78 groups pitching ideas to University of Michigan graduate students, who will select only about 20 ideas for their master’s projects.

“Northport seems to be somewhat progressive in terms of the amount of renewable energy that they already have. It seems like they’d be good people to take this on,” Good said. “The cost of renewable energy continues to fall, so I think at this point a lot of it is about people’s motivation and will to get it done rather than there being particular technical or cost barriers.”

Wolcott hopes the project will help residents save money and also serve as an example to other communities.

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