DTE Energy is building it’s first utility-scale photovoltaic plant in Huron County, Michigan. The 485 kilowatt array, being built on leased land from Wil-Le farms, is slated for completion by Thanksgiving. The project’s a far cry from the utility-scale projects going up in the U.S. Southwest, which are 100’s of megawatts in size, but it represents another step forward in the northern state.
The project, which is being designed and built by Nova Consultants is part of DTE’s SolarCurrents program, according to DTE spokesperson Scott Simons. “We have two programs, one for utility-owned solar projects the other for customer-owned projects,” he said.
The customer-owned projects side of SolarCurrents has proven popular. It’s already fully subscribed and has been for more than a year, according to Simons.
On the utility side of the program, the company has already installed a number of systems throughout its service areas in the state. Such projects include installations at the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan building in downtown Detroit, Monroe County Community College General Motors Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant and Ford’s Wayne plant, according to the Huron Daily Tribune.
The projects and those to come are part of the utility’s efforts to comply with Michigan’s renewable energy portfolio requirement, which requires utilities in the state to source 10 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2015, according to Simons. “We plan on having 15 megawatts devoted to the utility-owned projects and another 5 megawatts on the customer-owned side,” he said.
While DTE is building utility-scale solar projects, don’t expect them to get much larger than the Huron projects. “There could be some that go up to 1 megawatts. Most of them are in the 200 kilowatt to 500 kilowatt range,” Simons said.
Solar power works in Michigan, but there’s not as much of a solar resource in the state as there is in California or Texas, plus the land resource isn’t there like it is in the Southwest U.S. However, the larger renewable resource, and the one that DTE Energy will build more of, is wind.