We All Shine On


State-of-the-art solar panels added to East Lansing Demonstration Center

From Model-Ts to Smart Cars and desk-bound personal computers to iPads, technology often evolves into smaller and more efficient versions over time. At Michigan Energy Options (MEO), we are finding that solar energy technology is no different, and in this case, we can add cheaper to the list of improvements as well.

MEO got a technological upgrade this winter with the installation of five new solar panels (1.2 kW total) at our East Lansing Demonstration Center. (We've had a 2 kW solar roof since 1998). These new panels utilize state of the art solar electric technology with plug-and-play microinverters, minimum balance of system components, and standard off-the-shelf racking to secure them to our south-facing "eyebrow" roof (see photo). And they're cool looking too.


While solar power may have once seemed out of reach for the average homeowner or small business, growth in the solar market is making onsite solar electricity more affordable and easier to use. In fact, installing our new panels cost us less than half of what our solar shingles did in 1998.

As a State of Michigan Energy Demonstration Center, we are excited to demonstrate and explain to visitors just how practical solar energy can be.

The secret to these panels' affordability? The growth in the market—driven by higher consumer demand—means there is more supply of solar products and more supply means more competition, more competition is translating into less expensive components.


Also, technological advancements like microinverters eliminate the need for large, expensive centralized inverters, and other components, lowering the cost of installation and operation. These microinverters also make it easier to add more panels on to an existing solar system, plugging into each other.

Combined with our pre-existing solar shingles, we estimate that the new panels will be able to provide MEO with enough power to cover 20-30 percent of our electrical needs (see chart below for our projected savings for this year). On certain sunny days during the year, we anticipate we will even be putting excess electricity back onto the grid through a net metering agreement with the Lansing Board of Water & Light.


We will be able to share our solar performance with our visitors to our center and to our website, where we have posted a real-time energy dashboard.

MEO will also be conducting education workshops on solar power and is available to answer your questions on this subject.

Stay tuned because we have even more exciting plans for solar power here.

We want to thank our solar installer Ian Olmsted and his electrical contractors McPhee Electric and Telecommunications for the excellent work they did. We also want to thank the City of East Lansing and Lansing Board of Water & Light for their support and involvement.

Since we are a nonprofit and dependent on support from public and private sources, we would welcome any donations to our efforts to educate and promote solar energy. It is a homegrown energy source in Michigan that is truly clean and renewable.


Are You Ready for Renewables? We can answer your questions, connect you with industry resources, and help you identify possible funding. Email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


About Michigan Energy Options
For more than 30 years, Michigan Energy Options (formerly Urban and Northern Options) has helped more than a million people in Michigan conserve energy, save money, adopt renewable energy, reduce greenhouse gases and lead more sustainable lives. Our nonprofit is a team with diverse expertise: PhD, MBA, MPA, LEED accredited, HERS and BPI trained, licensed contractors and architects, seasoned environmental and energy experts, project and financial managers--all practitioners for a greener Michigan.
We have offices in East Lansing and Marquette. For more information, please call 517.337.0422