New solar panels collecting solar energy in Ann Arbor parks

ANN ARBOR, MI – Large solar panels are now collecting solar energy in Ann Arbor parks.

The new panels help energy facilities like the Burns Park Senior Center and the Fuller Park Swimming Pools.

On Monday, June 10, Ann Arbor officials gathered with community members and U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Ann Arbor, for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Burns Park.

Mounted high on a metal base, the nearly 32-kilowatt array installed by Homeland Solar has a tower above the senior center parking lot, next to the park’s tennis and pickleball courts.

A new photovoltaic installation collects solar energy at Burns Park in Ann Arbor on June 10, 2024. It powers an adjacent senior center. (Ryan Stanton |

It serves as a carport, under which there are parking spaces for cars, including two places for charging electric vehicles.

“This solar canopy we’re standing under is one piece of the A2Zero plan,” said Simi Barr, senior analyst at the Ann Arbor Office of Sustainability, referring to the city’s ambitious plan to achieve community-wide carbon neutrality by 2030 by powering buildings and vehicles with renewable energy.

“Since the solar installation came online on this site just a few weeks ago, over 95% of the electricity we have used in this building has come from clean and renewable energy,” Barr said of the Burns Park senior center.

Recently, an even larger solar shelter was installed at Fuller Park, with a peak power of almost 120 kilowatts.

A new photovoltaic installation collects solar energy at Fuller Park in Ann Arbor on June 5, 2024. It powers adjacent swimming pool facilities. (Ryan Stanton |

It’s part of a suite of ground-mounted and roof-mounted systems the city has worked with Homeland to install at various park facilities over the past year, including 18 kilowatts at the Gallup Park Canoe livery and 74 kilowatts at the Leslie Park Golf Course and pump house, 50 kilowatts at the clubhouse and pump room at Huron Hills Golf Course, 48 kilowatts at Cobblestone Farm and 162 kilowatts at Buhr Park Ice Arena.

Overall, more than 500 kilowatts of signs have been added to cities since 2023, with more to come at the Farmers Market and Veterans Memorial Park, Barr said.

Additionally, the city still plans to install solar panels on various other city facilities, including City Hall. The city also received approval from Pittsfield Township for a solar project at the municipal airport.

“We are extremely excited about the sustainability benefits of this, but also about the operational cost savings,” Barr said, estimating the boards will save the city tens of thousands of dollars.

“Together, these actions reduce our overall greenhouse gas footprint from city operations,” he said.

Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor speaks during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new solar array in Burns Park on June 10, 2024, standing next to U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell and City Administrator Milton Dohoney. (Ryan Stanton |

Scott Spooner, the city’s deputy parks superintendent for maintenance, said the parks department is eager to cooperate in the effort.

“One of the advantages of this solution is that we were able to do it without much impact on the tree canopy — in parking lots like this or in other areas where there are no trees,” he said. “An added benefit is that we now have some shade and covered parking, as well as electric vehicle chargers.”

Mayor Christopher Taylor thanked Dingell for helping secure federal dollars that aided the city’s efforts to transition to solar energy. The city also pursues climate action, which currently generates several million dollars a year in new revenue for the city from sustainability initiatives.

$4.25 million available to help Ann Arborites purchase e-bikes, go solar and energy upgrades

“We need to work together so that we can protect our environment,” Dingell said.

Ann Arbor is celebrating A2Zero Week June 9-15 with a week-long series of sustainability-focused events across the city. See the full schedule.

“There will be a lot of exciting things happening over the rest of the week to highlight and support what we’re doing here in the city of Ann Arbor, which is leading the state and leading the nation,” Taylor said.

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