Gemstone Solar

Project Overview

In September 2021, Wolverine Power Cooperative and Clēnera partnered to develop the largest solar array in Southwest Michigan—delivering an additional 150 MW of solar energy to Wolverine’s members for the next 20 years.

Wolverine is Michigan’s leader in new renewable energy—currently providing members with power that is 60 percent carbon-free. With a current renewable portfolio that includes more than 210 MW of wind and solar, Wolverine is pleased to continue growing that portfolio with the addition of the Gemstone Solar project.

Gemstone Solar is a utility-scale solar array to be constructed in Cass County, Michigan. The facility, situated on roughly 1,000 acres of land, is expected to begin construction in spring of 2023 and will create an estimated 350 construction jobs for the area.

Once operational, Gemstone Solar will generate 150 MW of reliable, cost-competitive, and clean energy to Wolverine’s members, generating enough energy to supply more than 24,000 Michigan homes.

About Clenera

Clēnera, LLC (Clēnera), developer of Gemstone Solar, is a renewable energy company headquartered in Boise, Idaho. Combining breakthrough technology with a deeply integrated team approach, Clēnera provides reliable, affordable energy systems and helps its partners become clean energy leaders in their communities, which is what Clēnera aims to accomplish with Gemstone Solar.

Aerial Footprint of Gemstone Solar Array Proposed Location

Fast Facts

  • Location
    Jefferson Township in Cass County, Michigan
    ~2 miles SW of Cassopolis
    ~16 miles NE of South Bend, Indiana

  • Project Size

  • Anticipated Completion
    Groundbreaking Q4 2022
    Commercial Operation Q4 2023

Current View

Simulation of Solar Array, Post-Install

Future Simulation

Frequently Asked Questions

Gemstone Solar will use bi-facial modules that will only occasionally reach a maximum height of 14 feet when mounted on a two-panel racking system. There are no hazardous materials in the panels that will be used. They are constructed of monocrystalline silicon photovoltaic wafers, connected with copper alloy electrical substrates, and pressed between two pieces of high-strength tempered glass.

No. PV modules are designed to absorb light as this is what causes them to generate electricity. They are further treated with an
anti-reflective material to further reduce any glare in order to increase the panel efficiency.

The panels will be recycled or sold on the secondary market. 23 PV module recycling centers currently operate in the U.S., including one in Cincinnati, Ohio, less than 300 miles from the Gemstone Solar site. It is anticipated that the panels will produce 70-75% of their nameplate rating at the end of the 35-year anticipated project life.

The power is being sold under a long-term contract to Wolverine Power Cooperative. Wolverine is owned by and supplies wholesale electric power to seven members: Cherryland Electric Cooperative, Great Lakes Energy, HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative, Midwest Energy & Communications, Presque Isle Electric & Gas, Spartan Renewable Energy, and Wolverine Power Marketing Cooperative. These cooperatives supply power to more than 268,000 homes, businesses, and farms in over 40 counties throughout Michigan.

No, the project will not create any perceptible noise for surrounding landowners. The loudest components within the project will be the transformers. The transformers within the substation will produce approximately 60-70 dB at 1 meter distance, which is approximately equivalent to being inside a moving car at 60 mph. Sound dissipates at 6 dB per every doubling of distance, so the ambient noise of the transformer at approximately 50 feet distance would produce 35-40 dB and approximate the noise disturbance of a refrigerator hum.
Yes, however, the only permanent light onsite would be at the substation and when work needs to occur at night. Lighting is likely not needed during construction since working hours are limited from sunrise to sunset. All lights will be shielded and downcasted to avoid contributing to area light pollution, and will be on timers and/or be motion activated.

Existing solar facilities have had no negative impact on adjacent property values, according to CohnReznick LLP. It was also noted in CohnReznick LLP’s report that proximity to the solar farms has not deterred sales of nearby agricultural land and residential single-family homes nor has it deterred the development of new single-family homes on adjacent land.

Clēnera is committed to being a good neighbor and environmental steward. Additionally, per Township code (6.02.C.2), in authorizing a Special Use Permit, the Planning Commission may require that a cash deposit, certified check, or irrevocable bank letter of credit be furnished by the developer to ensure compliance with the Special Use Permit Requirements. Such guarantees shall be deposited with the Township Treasurer at the time of the issuance of the permit.

Portions of the project can be visible from the street, but the Jefferson Township Solar Ordinance requires certain setbacks and required screening. Per the ordinance, front setbacks are required to be 100 feet, and side and rear setbacks are 40 feet. Screening is required along shared lot lines and consists of evergreen trees with a minimum height of 6 feet at the time of planting and are spaced no greater than 12 feet apart on-center. Clēnera estimates that more than 5,500 trees will be planted to limit the impacts on viewshed.


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