College agrees to solar panel project with DTE

MCCC’s Board of Trustees approved a lease agreement with DTE that could make the college the largest solar facility in Michigan.

 DTE Energy Regional Manager Molly Luempert-Coy presented an overview of the Solar Currents program at the board’s Monday night meeting.

According to Luempert-Coy, DTE Energy plans a 15-megawatt solar pilot project in compliance with the energy legislation passed in 2008.

 In the first phase of the project, DTE is reaching out to education institutions and their larger business customers to put together proposals.

 DTE will enter a contract with the college that will stretch over a 20-year period, Luempert-Coy said.

 “Not only will you be the largest solar facility in Monroe County, but you would be one of the largest solar facilities in the State of Michigan,” she said.

 DTE would install a $2.5 million-$3 million investment at the college, and they would own and maintain it.

 The panels would be installed behind MCCC’s Physical Plant.

 “About three acres of total panels will be interconnected back into your powerhouse,” DTE Engineer Derek Whittaker said.

 It will be a combination of fixed panels and tracker panels, Whittaker said.

 “We’re going to own and operate it,” he said. “You don’t pay a dime for anything. We pay you.”

 DTE would have a live demonstration project when the panels are installed, and they would work with the college to erect a kiosk system so students and the public can observe the data from the panels, Luempert-Coy said.

 “This would be an opportunity for us to actually build out this year, if the contract goes through, and actually have that up and available by the end of the year,” she said.

 Based on size, DTE would work out an arrangement with the college where they would pay an equal amount over 21 installments, over the course of 20 years, Luempert-Coy said.

Board Chairman Bill Bacarella said the construction and installation of the panels will be videotaped for students to view.

 Luempert-Coy added that the access to the kiosk system will eventually be Web-based for classroom access.

 “It’s an absolutely outstanding program,” Trustee Bill Braunlich said.