2018-07-19 / Front Page

Inland Seas moves to solar

By Eric Carlson
Of The Enterprise staff


FRED SITKINS, Executive Director of the Inland Seas Education Association (ISEA) helped install an array of solar panels on the ISEA campus near the waterfront in Suttons Bay on Wednesday morning. FRED SITKINS, Executive Director of the Inland Seas Education Association (ISEA) helped install an array of solar panels on the ISEA campus near the waterfront in Suttons Bay on Wednesday morning. Work has been proceeding apace this summer on a $1.5 million renovation project at the Inland Seas Education Association (ISEA) campus in downtown Suttons Bay.

This week, workers from Leelanau Solar, L.L.C., installed five 8-panel solar panels that will sit on adjustable racks on the ground between the ISEA building and ISEA’s “constructed wetland” near the Suttons Bay shoreline.

The panels will tilt with the sun and seasons. An additional 15-panel roof- mounted solar array will be installed at a later date.

According to ISEA Executive Director Fred Sitkins, each individual panel, 40 in total, will be able to produce 355 watts of electricity.

“Whether we’re providing programs on our ships, under the water, or along the shore, we want to continue to inspire students to be stewards of our Great Lakes,” Sitkins said.


LEELANAU SOLAR, L.L.C., aided by Inland Seas Education Association (ISEA) volunteers, install a solar panel array on the ISEA campus near the waterfront in Suttons Bay on Wednesday morning. LEELANAU SOLAR, L.L.C., aided by Inland Seas Education Association (ISEA) volunteers, install a solar panel array on the ISEA campus near the waterfront in Suttons Bay on Wednesday morning. The panels are expected to provide ISEA 90-to- 95-percent of its electrical power needs for years to come.

Herman Miller Cares, a Michigan-based philanthropic foundation, provided funding for the solar panel installation.

The solar arrays are just part of a broader renovation project first unveiled in 2016 which will include creation of dormitory-style accommodations in the lower level of the building. The building itself has been re-named the Captain Thomas M. Kelly Biological Station, dedicated to ISEA’s late founder, Tom Kelly.

Phase One of the renovation project, which was completed earlier this year, involved paying off a $367,000 mortgage on the ISEA property through the support of an anonymous donor.

Phase Two of the Project, which began this spring, involved removing an old storage barn that had been on the property since ISEA acquired it from Northern Lumber Company earlier in this century.

The second phase of the project has also included a variety of other exterior improvements including landscaping and an outdoor classroom. Installation of the solar power array is also part of the second phase.

Phase Three, slated to begin in 2019, will include addition of the dormitory-style living quarters to serve 4th through 12th grade students attending ISEA programs during the school year and various groups participating in ISEA summer programs.

A non-profit organization founded in 1989, ISEA is still raising funds for the renovation project. More information can be found on the organizations’ website at www.schoolship.org, or by phoning 271-3077.

“One of our goals with this major campus renovation is to create sustainability for the next 30 years and generating our own electricity will help us accomplish that,” Sitkins added.

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40 panels are probably at 355

40 panels are probably at 355 watts each, giving a total of 14,200 watts, or 14.2 kw (kilowatts). That would appear to be more correct to get 90 percent of their annual electrical needs.