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“Community Gardens” Powering the Future

Michigan’s local energy providers are always looking for new, innovative ideas aimed at generating cleaner, more sustainable energy to power Michigan homes and businesses.

In recent months, both Consumers Energy and DTE Energy have made new commitments to solar energy, with each company launching large “utility-scale” projects across the state. Solar gardens are one type of project that illustrate the next steps in integrating more renewables into Michigan’s energy mix.  These community-based projects will help ensure we have a diverse supply of energy to power a brighter future for all Michiganders.

Solar Gardens: Plant and Bloom

According to Crain’s Detroit Business, Michigan energy providers are planning to roll out “solar gardens,” utility-scale solar arrays that allow “customers, investors and utilities—or a combination—to build large solar panel arrays on neutral sites to share power generation and cost savings.”

Recently, Consumers “received conditional approval to begin a 10 megawatt community solar program—Michigan’s first—by the state Public Service Commission.”  The project “gives individual and business electric customers the opportunity to purchase subscriptions in 0.5 kilowatt blocks, which could cost $28 to $41 per block.”

Participants would get a credit of roughly $9.25 per month (estimated for 2016) over 25 years (depending on their investment level and power production at the facility). DTE is also “developing a large-scale solar program to add to its blend of renewable energy projects.”

Michigan Energy Investing in Wind and Solar

It might surprise you to learn that the biggest investors in wind and solar energy in the state are none other than Michigan’s own DTE Energy and Consumers Energy.  Michigan’s local energy providers are leading the way on renewable energy investments—helping to ensure Michiganders have access to affordable, reliable energy over the long term. 

On May 15, DTE announced a partnership with “Domino’s Farms and Ford Motor Company to build and operate the two largest solar arrays in Michigan.”

DTE Energy “has started building a 1.1-megawatt photovoltaic solar array at Domino’s Farms east of Ann Arbor [that] will be completed and operational by the end of the year.” This solar array will house more than 4,000 solar panels and will have a “maximum capacity of 1,089 kilowatts of electricity,” or roughly enough “to power 185 homes.”

A Bright Michigan Energy Future

Michigan is still facing a capacity crisis that could negatively impact both reliability and affordability for all Michiganders in the near future. We’ve discussed before why maintaining a diverse, flexible fuel supply will be critical to addressing the crisis successfully.

Increasing the amount of electricity we get from large-scale solar energy projects—coupled with increased reliance on natural gas, nuclear, wind, and hydropower—will help Michigan secure its energy future for both the short and long term.

What do you think about these solar gardens?  Let us know your thoughts today!