New Solar Panels in O’Shea Park Bring Energy to Community

Solar-powered electricity isn’t the only thing DTE Energy hopes to generate with its new solar panels in O’Shea Park. The company also hopes to cooperate with the city of Detroit to deliver new energy into the economy and community of the blighted West side itself.

DTE began construction earlier this month, installing 7,000 panels across ten acres in O’Shea Park, which will make the area home to one of the largest urban solar projects in the country once it’s completed at the end of this year.

The construction itself will bring jobs to the community and is expected to generate over $1.4 million in tax revenue for the city over the next 20 years.

“This great project is one of the ways the city is developing new partnerships to put our vacant land back to use in a way that strengthens the surrounding neighborhood,” said Mayor Mike Duggan in a press release. “What DTE Energy is creating here will help to stabilize and strengthen this community.”

Of course, the project is also about creating sustainable energy from renewable resources. The solar panels should be able to generate enough electricity to power 450 homes and will assist DTE in retiring 11 older coal-fired units over the next decade.

Additionally, homeowners themselves can also take measures to reduce personal energy usage. A cool metal roof typically reduces heating and cooling costs by 25% compared to dark asphalt shingles, for example.

The newfound community and civic support behind the solar initiative is in many ways a relief for DTE and for renewable energy advocates alike.

“It is a big deal that people, especially utilities, are spending money on solar after a past where they resisted it,” said Dan Whitten, spokesman for the national trade group Solar Energy Industries Association.

“It’s a learning opportunity in the sense that solar power is a renewable source whose costs are coming down,” added David Harwood, DTE’s director of renewable energy. “DTE wants to be ahead of the game if and when this becomes competitive. [It’s an] opportunity to spur some growth in Detroit.”

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