Detroit utility company DTE Energy is set to install a 1.1-megawatt solar panel structure right outside the city limits of Ann Arbor.
Mlive.com reports that the structure, an impressive array of over 4,000 photovoltaic (PV) panels, will be the largest solar panel installation in Michigan. Once powered, it will generate enough electricity for 185 mid-sized homes. DTE Energy is leasing eight acres of a nearby farm for the unit.
The unit is part of the company’s Solar Currents program, an initiative designed to meet the state’s new standard for utility companies to generate 10% of its total energy output from renewable sources such as solar, wind, and biofuel. The standard is supposed to be reached by the end of this year.
The company hopes to complete installation and being operations in the summer. It has already installed solar panels at 22 sites, generating nine megawatts of electricity. It is by far the largest solar power company in Michigan.
“The project is really an example of how DTE is partnering with customers to build a more energy-efficient and sustainable future,” said DTE Energy spokeswoman Vanessa Waters.
Ann Arbor Township Supervisor Mike Moran is ecstatic about the panels. The town had already attempted to build a similar structure close to its municipal airport but had to shut it down, due to opposition from local officials.
“It’s an interesting and different kind of project,” Moran said. “Certainly solar power is something we support. We have a strong emphasis on environmental issues and this would seem to fit into it.”
Domino’s Farms, the farm that DTE Energy is renting land from, has a contract with the company for 20 years with the potential for renewing up to 10 years more. The landowners were happy to help.
“We’re pleased that we can assist them,” said John Petz, the director of real estate and public affairs for Domino’s Farms. “We’re really pleased to be able to have this come together and working with DTE. And we’re pleased with the cooperation we received from Ann Arbor Township through the approval process.”
Solar panels are available for residential use in addition to commercial. Installing solar panels on the roof of a house, for example, is a popular option for homeowners (although the process can take four to seven days).