A planned solar panel installation near Elk Rapids won’t be powering up anytime soon after village trustees learned it would require substantial upfront investment.

Elected officials early this summer were approached by a Grand Rapids-based company with the idea of developing a renewable energy project. The company thought it could leverage federal tax credits and attract a loan to fund installation, which would have allowed the village to break even on the deal in its first year of operation.

The rough concept looked promising, and elected Elk Rapids officials expressed interest. The company developed a plan that involved building a field of solar panels atop a retired landfill near the village’s wastewater treatment plant.

Potential investors, though, were not enthused by financial projections from the relatively small scale of the project. They said “no thanks.”

A revised proposal from the company — without that investment group loan — didn’t look nearly so attractive. Village trustees chose not to pursue that offer.

It’s sad the project went dim, but the trustees made the right financial decision.

Renewable energy can be a great tool for helping save the environment.

But governments must use tax dollars wisely. Trustees decided that the revised offer wouldn’t be fiscally responsible.

Clean energy works only if the people paying the bills can afford it. Renewable energy depends on renewable funding.

This particular project went dark, but Elk Rapids officials plan to move forward with renewable energy.

“It’s a real point of pride the community looks at this sort of thing,” said Royce Ragland, chairwoman of both the Green Elk Rapids organization and the village’s planning commission.

“We are not giving up on the concept,” said Village Manager William Cooper.

More power to them, we say.

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