This summer, DTE Energy is commissioning two solar arrays for the record books. The company’s Lapeer Solar Project, with its 200,000 solar panels covering over 250 acres, is Michigan’s largest. The O’Shea Solar Project, in Detroit, built on 10 acres of previously vacant land, is one of the largest urban arrays in the U.S. This project is helping to revitalize the surrounding neighborhood with the City of Detroit now redeveloping a previously abandoned park.
Together, these projects will generate enough clean energy to power nearly 11,500 homes. With the completion of these projects, solar will make up seven percent of DTE’s renewable energy portfolio. While wind still accounts for more than 90 percent of the portfolio, solar is playing an increasingly important role and will continue to do so as DTE implements its plan to reduce carbon emissions by more than 80 percent by 2050.
There are several reasons for solar energy’s popularity, even in Michigan’s four-season climate. While solar energy remains more expensive than wind in Michigan, the cost is declining. “We have seen steady improvements in the cost of solar energy over the past five years and there is a good chance that large scale solar energy may become less expensive than wind in Michigan sometime in the future,” says Dave Harwood, director of Renewable Energy, DTE Energy. “DTE is now well-positioned to increase solar generating capacity if, and when, that happens.”
In the U.S., demand for solar energy is at an all-time high. DTE is responding to that demand and is Michigan’s largest investor in solar energy, having invested $170 million since 2008.
All this activity is also having a positive impact on the job market. Last year, Michigan’s solar industry workforce grew by 48 percent. The Lapeer and O’Shea solar projects contributed to this job growth, providing employment for nearly 300 people during construction as well as creating several permanent jobs.
Solar projects also generate significant tax revenue for the communities in which they are located that can be used to support and improve public services such as roads, schools and hospitals.
To learn more about DTE’s solar energy projects, please visit dteenergy.com/renew.