Ypsilanti Citizen Community Sidetrack

Volunteers prepare for Ypsi PRIDE Day
By Mark Tower
May. 13, 2010   ·   7:09 a.m.

Volunteers and W.H. Canon employees plant flowers in Depot Town while Ypsilanti resident Mike Labadie repairs the planter's brick work on Ypsi PRIDE Day last year.

Each year, residents in and around the city of Ypsilanti carry on a tradition started by a group of community members enrolled in a city leadership program, a sort...read more

Bicycles zoom as flowers bloom
By Citizen staff
Apr. 30, 2010   ·   2:11 p.m.

Riders from last year's spring ride come in after a long trip. Bike Ypsi’s 2010 Spring Ride and Festival is from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Sunday at Recreation Park (1015 Congress Street).

The weather has turned, the trees are budding and the flowers are popping out of the ground; time for a cruise through town. But don’t be so quick to hop in the...read more

Sheriff Clayton visits Ypsilanti Township
By Mark Tower
Apr. 29, 2010   ·   12:59 p.m.

Ypsilanti Township resident Kathleen Hanadel takes notes as her and other residents attempt to asses WCSO services Tuesday evening at a community forum held at the township's community center.

About 50 Ypsilanti Township residents gave the Washtenaw County Sheriff Office their input about law enforcement in the community Tuesday evening.

The information...read more

Local photographer raising funds for Ypsi Project exhibit
By Adrienne Ziegler
Apr. 20, 2010   ·   2:20 a.m.

Ypsilanti resident Nicholas Beltsos his grandson Demetrios were photographed by Project Ypsi photographer Erica Hampton during a bike ride she took Monday. A former EMU economics professor, Beltsos and his family moved to Ypsi from Dearborn in 1967.

Ypsilanti has many faces, and Erica Hampton wants to share a few of them with you.

Over the past year, Hampton created the The Ypsi Project, a series of portraits...read more

Savoy taking shape as live music venue
By Dan DuChene
Apr. 17, 2010   ·   2:38 p.m.

Local funk band Third Coast Kings play in Ypsilanti's newest live music venue, Savoy, Friday night.

Ypsilanti's newest concert venue is preparing for its grand opening weekend April 23, more than a month after its soft opening March 13.

Formerly Club Divine,...read more

Ypsi goes solar this summer

Dave Strenski - computer engineer by day, Ypsilanti's solar panel enthusiast by night. Photo by Charnika Jett

Dave Strenski - computer engineer by day, Ypsilanti's solar panel enthusiast by night.

City Hall, River Street Bakery projects scheduled for completion by season's end

By Charnika Jett
Jun. 24, 2009    ·    10:34 a.m.

An environmentally conscious person might change a couple of habits to do their part for the environment. Recycle, instead of throwing paper in the trash or bike instead of driving.

But how about installing solar panels to a house or better yet, a historic building in the city? Think that’s going a little above and beyond? Tell that to Ypsilanti resident Dave Strenski.

The applications analyst at Cray Inc. makes high performance computers at his day job, and then leaves to install solar panels on historic buildings in Ypsilanti.

So far, Strenski has installed 12 panels on the rooftop at the Ypsilanti Food Cooperative and has two other projects in the works. Strenski says solar panels on the back of City Hall and on the rooftop of the Food Co-op’s River Street Bakery will be completed by the end of the summer.

So why does Strenski put his time and energy into the projects? The volunteer at the Cooperative said it started in 2008 when Corinne Sikorski, the general manager at the Ypsilanti Food Cooperative approached him about it.

“Corrine started it,” Strenski said. "She pointed me to something that she thought was a grant [for solar panels] and I looked at it, and it wasn’t.”

Later Strenski found a grant that would supply all the money that he needed to get solar panels for the Cooperative and also found a grant for giving presentations on the importance of renewable energy.

“I found a grant for $6,000 and we were able to buy four panels and put them up on a roof,” he said. “That was the beginning of the Co-op.”

Later Strenski ran into Jason Bing at recycle Ann Arbor who supplied him with another grant for giving presentations. It also bought a fifth panel for the Cooperative.

As time passed, Strenski became more intrigued with the project. That’s when he decided to add a second project to his list.

“I was looking at the back of City Hall and it’s south where [there is] no shade so it’s a perfect location,” Strenski said.

But in order to get solar panels onto the back of City Hall, Strenski had to seek permission from the mayor and the Historic District Commission. Issues started to arise about the panels being visible on the back wall. But Strenski wanted them visible to encourage Ypsilanti residents to do the same to their home or local business.

“They didn’t want people to see them from a historic district preservation point of view, but from a renewable energy point of view you do want people to see them," Strenski said.

The HDC said they wanted time to think about it, but “some time” turned into one year. In the process, officials gave Strenski a list of criteria he had to meet in order for them to accept the project.

One requirement was to put together a design for the outline of the panels on City Hall, but since Strenski is not a licensed engineer, he had to hire one to review his design to make sure it was accurate.

“Patrick, an engineer in Ann Arbor, reviewed my design and stamped it," Strenski said. “But he wanted $3,800 dollars to do that.”

With that hurdle, Strenski’s friend and City Planner Richard Murphy started a pledge site where Strenski eventually collected a $1,000 from local supporters, and later got another grant to cover the remaining costs.

After they found yet another grant, Strenski and Sikorski decided to add the Ypsilanti Food Cooperative Bakery to their list of projects.

“We wanted to make 100 percent renewable energy bread,” Strenski said. “I figured out how much power for the lights, refrigerator and all that stuff takes and we wrote a proposal for 30 panels for the bakery for $45,000 and submitted that.”

In September of 2008 Strenski received news that he was approved for both grants. Shortly thereafter the HDC also approved the project for panels to be installed on City Hall.

So why go through all this trouble to install solar panels one might ask?

“Eighteen billion dollars leaves the state every year to buy coal oil and that’s the motivating factor,” Strenski said.

In general, solar energy is environmentally friendly, unlike other traditional forms of energy that can put harm to our environment. With it you can run any electric appliance you might need in a house or local business without any problem.

Solar power is generated by Photovoltaic cells, which is basically converting photons to electrons.

“To get the most power, sun rays [have] to hit the panel straight on,” Strenski explains. “If they’re on an angle you’ll get a reflection.

“So at eight o’clock in the morning, you only get a little trickle of power, but its voltage is slighter higher than the voltage at the utility company so when an appliance needs electricity, it would grab the energy from the solar power because it pulls the one from the utility company.”

Strenski said by using solar panels the power plant can use one less shovel full of coal a day and save consumers $365 a year.

Although it could cost anywhere between $30,000 to $50,000 to power your entire household using commercial solar energy system, Strenski said the costs would sure to go down as solar energy popularity grows.

For more information on the Solar Ypsilanti Projects, visit the group's Website. If you would like to find information on how to get your household or local business energy efficient, visit the the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association by clicking here.

The Rocket

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