University proceeds with plan for campus solar power projects

May 16, 2024 in Press Releases

The University of Michigan is moving ahead with plans to construct on-campus solar power installations with a capacity of 25 megawatts across the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses, including Michigan Medicine and Athletics.

The Board of Regents voted May 16 to hire Radial Power, a Houston-based distributed energy and sustainability solutions firm, to design and build the installations. The action follows a February 2023 call for proposals to build large-scale solar projects across all U-M campuses.


“On-campus solar is a tremendous opportunity for the university,” said Geoff Chatas, executive vice president and chief financial officer.

“We look forward to collaborating with Radial Power and our community partners to build innovative installations that will reduce our operational greenhouse gas emissions, spur sustainable business practices, and provide a powerful symbol of our commitment to climate action.”

The total amount of electricity generated would equal the power consumed by approximately 3,000 homes annually. U-M is pursuing installations totaling approximately 20 megawatts on the Ann Arbor campus and 5 megawatts between the Dearborn and Flint campuses.

Project locations have yet to be determined, although the university will prioritize large rooftops, existing parking decks and parking lots, and will consider ground-mounted arrays.

“These installations will visibly demonstrate our ongoing transition to renewable power and our commitment to ensuring meaningful community benefits, both on and off campus,” said Shana S. Weber, associate vice president for campus sustainability.

“This is one way the University of Michigan serves as a living and learning laboratory for our students, for higher education, for Michigan and for the broader region.”

Installations will be phased in over three years. Once operational, they will help move U-M toward its goal of eliminating direct campus greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.

Radial Power was chosen from 16 firms that responded to the university’s initial call for proposals. In addition to emissions-reduction benefits, Radial will prioritize opportunities to facilitate living-learning laboratory opportunities for the U-M campus community. The firm also will donate 10% of the effort’s proceeds to solar projects in surrounding communities, with relevant partners to be identified.

The contract is estimated to cost approximately $70 million, excluding potential expenses related to building modifications needed before installation.

U-M’s on-campus solar push is one strategy in its overarching commitment to achieve university wide carbon neutrality by 2040. Carbon neutrality, climate action and environmental justice also are core components of ongoing central Vision 2034 and Campus Plan 2050 efforts.