Bob's Blog Up North Blog

Going Solar In Leelanau County

Cherry Republic President Bob Sutherland’s love of environmental causes is well documented. On the board of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, he is a vocal supporter of renewable energy, and he has spoken out passionately about his love for the Great Lakes and his determination to shut down the Line 5 Pipeline running beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

So you might not be surprised to hear that many Cherry Republic employees share that same passion. Two of those employees — Laura Ann Johnson and Jean Jenkins — recently turned their green ideals into action by installing solar panels on their homes in Leelanau County.

Johnson, who works as a Sales Specialist in the company’s Glen Arbor store, explains that she and husband Tom Bisbee worked with Harvest Energy Solutions in Jackson, Michigan. The couple started the process by sending in their electric bill so Harvest could calculate how many panels would be needed to cover 100 percent of their electric needs.

“They came out and did a consultation with us, and then we worked with Michigan Saves to get a loan to help cover the cost,” Johnson says. “Harvest Energy Solutions took us through the bank stuff step by step; they did a lot of the work for us which was really nice. Then they scheduled construction, and we dug a trench to our house.”

Next, electricians came and installed the electric box on the side of the house, while other workers put pylons in the ground. Finally, the solar panels were delivered, and in two days everything had been installed and was up running.

“Tom and I have always loved the outdoors and environment and tried to live our life as green as possible,” Johnson says. “Ever since having our first child, we started thinking more about the world we are leaving our children and how we want to do whatever we can to leave our future better than we found it.”

Jenkins, a Cherry Republic Order Support Ambassador, had Shelbyville based Solar Winds install solar panels on her home in Port Oneida just last week, and she is hoping to be hooked up to the grid next week.

“The world is facing a climate crisis, and I am trying to do whatever I can to be part of the solution,” says Jean Jenkins, Cherry Republic Order Support Ambassador. “The more green energy investment we have, the stronger the argument against fossil fuels and dangerous fuel lines like Line 5.”

Cherry Republic shared the part of the cost of the solar panel installation with Johnson and is using it as a pilot project to see how the company may be able to lend financial support to other staff members who are interested in renewable energy going forward.

“I would love it if one day every Cherry Republic employee, customer, and vendor had a home or business powered exclusively by renewable energy,” Sutherland says. “The sooner we can switch from fossil fuels to renewables, the sooner Michigan can reduce the effects of the carbon heating up the atmosphere.”

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