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DTE Energy announces biggest solar project yet


DTE Energy is taking its biggest plunge into solar power yet, with a Lapeer County project announced Monday.

According to DTE, that project will be the “largest utility-owned solar array east of the Mississippi.”

It calls for nearly 150,000 solar panels spread over about 300 acres, generating a combined 45 megawatts of power on two sites. That’s more than three times the company’s solar output right now.

David Harwood, DTE’s director of renewable energy, says that until now its renewable energy portfolio has favored wind power.

“But we think a balanced portfolio, a little bit of everything, makes sense,” Harwood said. “And that’s why we’re doing this large solar project.”

DTE is required by state law to generate 10% of power sales from renewable sources by the end of this year.

Harwood says the utility has met that goal, but will continue to invest in renewables in anticipation of tighter federal limits on carbon emissions.

“We’re on a very steady pace here to increase our renewable energy even more than the 10% to meet the requirements of that federal plan,” Harwood said.

Earlier this month, the Michigan Public Service Commission signed off on DTE plans for another 50 mW of solar power, which include the Lapeer project. It’s scheduled to be fully online by late 2016.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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