Helios Solar Media Links
How One Undergrad Built the Largest Solar Farm in Michigan
ArsTechnica (August 1, 2011)
Building a solar farm isn't hard if you have the money; you just pay contractors to show up, install eletrical service, build the solar panel support infrastructure, and truck in the panels. But if you want to do it cheap, you could buy some land from a friend and set up your own fabrication shop, spending an entire summer welding together 50,000 pounds of structural steel and pouring concrete around 20,000 pounds or rebar to save serious cash on infrastructure.
Connor Field, a Michigan resident who built the largest solar farm in the state this way in late 2009, said drily, "I would not do that again."
"Do you know how to weld?" I asked him when we recently met in Ann Arbor to discuss the project.
"I do now."
Connor Field - Growing Energy on a Solar Farm
University of Michigan Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (April 13, 2011)
Connor Field, his family, and best friend have been "growing" the latest in modern commodities – energy, at their solar energy farm in Charleston Township, Michigan. It's the largest of its kind in Michigan, and Connor is already known as a leader in the West Michigan industry.
In early 2009, Connor was working to complete his bachelor's degree in Economics from U-M. He was also working with his father, attorney Sam Field, on an out-of-state wind energy project. When his father learned at a wind conference that Consumer's Energy was going to offer a feed-in-tariff program, in which the utility company agrees to buy renewable energy at a fixed price, they decided to build the largest project allowed under the rules of the program, a 150kW array.
Thought Leader in Energy Connor Field: Here Comes the Sun
Business Review West Michigan (May 12, 2010)
At 22, Connor Field is younger than the alternative energy market, but his ambitious solar projects already have established him as a leader in the West Michigan industry.
The solar farm in Charleston Township he completed with his father, Sam, last year could produce energy throughout the young Field's life.
Harnessing the Sun
LSA Wire (July 28, 2010)
At Michigan's largest solar farm, alumni power homes with sunlight.
When Sam Field looks out over his 756 solar panels soaking up the sun on a farm in Galesburg, Michigan, nine miles east of Kalamazoo, he thinks about sweet corn in August.
"The panels are only 10 feet in the air, no higher than corn in August," says Field ('74, Law '77) co-founder of the state's largest solar farm, which hooked up to the Consumers Energy grid on February 17. "There are no negatives with solar farms. They don't kill birds or interrupt flight paths.
"We have yet to find anyone who does not like solar," he says. "It's powered 100 percent by Michigan sunshine."
Tax bill threatens solar farm profits in Charleston Township
Kalamazoo Gazette (May 9, 2010)
CHARLESTON TOWNSHIP — Last August, owners of a new solar-energy business here said they were committed to "doing something that's never been done in Michigan."
But that hope has taken a hit under state tax assessment guidelines.
Kalamazoo Solar owners are appealing the company's first property-tax bill of $27,394, which they say is higher than the retail value of a year's production of electricity by the farm. The energy generated by the solar farm, which began operating in February, is being sold to Consumers Energy under a 12-year contract.
The company's 3-acre solar farm on East L Avenue was assessed at $578,700, said attorney Sam Field, who leases the land from Rick Schmitt, a minority owner in the farm. Its 756 solar panels were "literally assessed (at) 2.2 times more ... than what we paid for them," he said.
"I am not a person who doesn't like to pay his taxes," he said. "I'm not remotely against paying taxes, but the tax bills should be for the right amount."
Galesburg Solar Farm is Largest Solar Project in the State
Detroit Free Press (January 4, 2010)
GALESBURG, Mich. (DETROIT FREE PRESS) -- It might sound like a field of dreams, but Sam Field and his son Connor Field hope their new solar farm will soon bring a burst of sunshine-generated electricity to Michigan and a return on their million-dollar investment.
With two friends, the Fields built the 700-panel solar array from scratch, even digging the trenches. Currently, it's the biggest solar project in the state, providing enough electricity to Consumers Energy to power 20 to 25 homes.
They're hoping the grand experiment succeeds and that a pilot program by Consumers Energy to put renewable energy projects on the grid and pay owners a fixed price for 12 years will make the venture profitable.
A Harvest of Sunshine
Secondwave Media (April 29, 2010)
Anyone who thinks of Michigan as a land of ice and snow may be surprised to learn even in sun-starved winter there's enough sunshine to produce solar energy.
To capture that energy, a father and son team has built a 1.5 acre solar energy farm, called a solar array, between Battle Creek and Kalamazoo.
As you walk the property, it's an other-worldly sight and it was quite a gamble economically -- think around $1 million, out of private pockets.
Michigan solar power farm not your typical father-son project…
Sundance Channel (January 4, 2010)
Solar power in Michigan? Really?
While it's probably not the last state you'd associate with solar power (that's Alaska), Michigan likely appears far down on your list of places ideal for a large-scale solar power installation. Attorney Sam Fields, his son Connor, and two other partners hope to prove you wrong with their 700-panel array in Galesburg.
Huge Solar Farm in Charlestown Township Near Completion
Kalamazoo Gazette (November 14, 2009)
CHARLESTON TOWNSHIP — Connor Field, 22, is nearing completion on a project that could produce energy throughout his life — a solar farm in Charleston Township.
It should be finished by Dec. 1 and is reportedly the largest solar farm in Michigan.
For Field, a senior economics major at the University of Michigan, it's the realization of a dream that grew out of conversations he's had over the years with his father, Sam Field, about renewable energy.
"The most important issue facing our generation is America's energy independence and combating the impact on the environment that conventional sources of energy have caused," Connor Field said recently while his father, business partner Richard Schmitt, family and friends worked nearby installing solar panels on racks.
Solar farm near Galesburg would sell electricity to Consumers Energy
Kalamazoo Gazette (August 30, 2009)
CHARLESTON TOWNSHIP -- A retired restaurant owner, an attorney and a college student are working together near Galesburg to build what they say will be Michigan's first sizable solar farm.
They admit they don't know how well the solar farm -- which would supply power to Consumers Energy -- will work or whether it will turn a profit.