Michigan Airport May Be New Site of Solar Energy

When you think solar, are you thinking Michigan? That could change by next year, when Ann Arbor may have one of the state’s largest energy installations.

Ann Arbor city officials announced that they want to go in on a 10-acre solar farm at the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport by partnering with DTE Energy. While it would start out as a 1-megawatt solar farm, there would be room for expansion and the addition of more solar panels. Once it’s completed, it would make the airport solar farm the largest installation in Michigan.

Mayor Christopher Taylor told MLive he’s excited about it. “Ann Arbor very much wants to take action on renewable energy. We have a Climate Action Plan that I fully and earnestly support. This, I think, is a great step forward for us.”

It’s not confirmed yet — the first thing the city needs is approval on engineering work, as well as approvals from various government agencies to use the airport property for non-airport solar energy. After engineering designs are developed, and if all goes as planned, then DTE Energy will pay for the solar installment and pay Ann Arbor to use the land, leading to extra revenue for the city.

Meanwhile, at Ford Motor Company headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, plans were announced last August to build a 1.038-megawatt solar installation alongside DTE Energy. At the University of Michigan, DTE Energy paired up again in 2012 to make a 1,800 solar panel array. Yet the Ann Arbor airport solar project would help DTE meet Michigan’s renewable portfolio standard by 2015 (in Michigan, the standard for next year is 10 percent of its energy from renewable sources).

If everything goes through, not only with the city of Ann Arbor be part of solar energy, but the state of Michigan looks like it could become an emerging player among “solar states” — that is, at this rate, Michigan has the potential to become one of the country’s leaders in solar energy.

What do you think of the Ann Arbor solar project? Tell us in the comments!

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