You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 10:08 a.m.

DTE Energy installing field of solar panels on University of Michigan's North Campus

By Kellie Woodhouse

Workers have started installing an array of solar panels at University of Michigan's North Campus Research Complex.

Thumbnail image for 102411_BIZ_Pfizer_U_of_M_16.JPG

The solar panels will be installed on the North Campus Research Complex

The project —which will generate enough energy to power about 100 homes— began earlier this week.

It's part of DTE Energy's SolarCurrents program, which means that the company will own, operate and install the panels while U-M receives an annual payment. Energy produced by the panels will be fed into DTE's electric grid.

The panels will be distributed on 2.4 acres of land.

Altogether, the assortment includes 1,800 solar modules and has a potential annual generating capacity of 750,000 kilowatt hours of energy, or 127,000 more kilowatt hours than it takes to power the Fleming Administration Building, according to U-M figures.

The SolarCurrents program is part of DTE's efforts to meet Michigan's Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires that utilities derive 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2015.

The utility already operates solar arrays on General Motors, Ford, Monroe County Community College and Blue Cross Blue Shield properties, as well as roofs of two Michigan high schools.

In September 2011 U-M President Mary Sue Coleman said the solar panels are part of an ongoing sustainability initiative to reduce waste and energy use at the school's Ann Arbor campus.

Officials said they do now know how much money the project will generate for the university.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 11:44 p.m. I did the math. 1800 panels cost about $250 a piece, and let's say another $250 each to install = $900,000. Our state cost per kilowatt hour for electriciy is $0.1072 (about 11 cents). So, the added 750,000 annual kilowatt hours generated by this eyesour equates to a whopping $82,500 per year! So, this rig will take over 10 years to start saving us any money. They have a life expentancy of 30 years, so after 20 years, we'll have saved enough to replace the system. Basically, we'll make the initial investment back in 30 years. Not much of a business case there.


Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 8:47 p.m.

The saddest part is the green freaks are so ready to litter the landscape with these erector sets that they seem to forget there was a really nice pasture there before where deer would feed every evening (my daughter saw her first deer there less than 6 feet from our car door, and proudly said the word "deer" out loud before we thought she could). How is this "greening" the environment??? Also, there is nothing in the article about how much these things cost to buy and install, how long it will take to pay that off with the new energy being produced (at our average sun load rates), and how long after the payoff until the entire array will need major maintenance $$$ (solar panel don't last forever, and lose efficiency over time). Who's going to pay for that? Indeed, this is just bad all over, and more hippy utopia gone wrong.


Sun, Nov 25, 2012 : 8:49 p.m.

This project is an eyesore from Plymouth Rd.

Mike K

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 8:23 p.m.

I hope they are good panels. The industry found out that potential induced degradation (PID) can cut a panels output by 75% in many instances. One bad panel in the array spoils the whole array. Secondly, I hope they are installing American made panels. Believe it or not, there are a couple decent manufactures left. I'm not a huge fan of solar as it still costs way too much, and everyone pays for it when it is used for utilities. Even granny and the poor. It's really just another indiscriminate hidden tax.


Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.

A dwindling number of voters would agree that obama's intellect is anything above average. In any case, Presidents require leadership, management and personal skills more then raw IQ, all categories in which he is a complete failure. Likely that is because he's never worked for a business and spent his life in a small, pseudo intellectual, anti-American environment with no exposure to the real world and now suffers from "legend in his own mind" disorder. Hiding behind our North Korea style national worship media, he is also devolved into a shameless liar. The recent trend of gas prices is irrelevant to his disastrous economic non-policies that have been weakening the dollar since he took office and launched his insane spending spree. Oil is pegged against gold so as did QE1 and 2, QE3 will cause gas prices to rise. In addition, his war on cheap energy and refusal to license drilling on public land constricts national oil supply even as drilling on private land increases - where his henchmen can't stop them. Then he takes credit for "increasing the domestic oil supply", another shameless lie. Rich or poor, anyone who votes for this one man train wreck is crazy.


Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 1:40 p.m.

Gas price yesterday was $3.12 and it's been getting lower every week, Mr. Shepard. And the last thing Obama is is sophomoric: he's probably too intellectual for many.


Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 2:37 a.m.

Big business? What? …so you think lower demand for oil makes the price go up? Sounds like you're still learning economics from Pelosi and Obama!! LOL LOLOLOLOLOL So YOU are unaware that your hero Governor Jenny Granholm signed a 2008 law requiring Michigan home and business owners pay for 10% of our energy generated from uneconomical gimmick sources by 2015, well after she her reign of incompetence is a distant nightmare? DTE could not care less if foolish Michigan rate payers want their power generated from compressed liquid flatulence – they have a state monopoly with guaranteed profits. How clueless are you people. Only someone hopelessly educated by the corrupt US press could think our last qualified President, George W. Bush "mismanaged our economy". Was he the real savior of the auto industry when Pelosi refused to help them? Ah, the memories... Certainly such an absurd claim would require you economic historians be ignorant of Jimmy Carter's 1977 Community Reinvestment Act as well as the roles Barney Frank and Chris Dodd played and continue to play in the financial collapse and vast damage to our economy. While you're at it, explain why democrats blocked bills sponsored by McCain to regulate the Freddies!? LOL Truly clueless. Unless like the press, you enjoy being wrong 90% of the time, you might find some different path to educating yourself about current events.


Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 2:46 p.m. A123, Unisolar, Solar One, Fisker, Tesla, Volt, or Solyndra would not have existed without the money seized from working Americans and borrowed from the Chinese and handed to these bankrupt companies. A123 has now been sold to JCI at fire sale prices and all those wasted Obama Bucks are GONE. Levin and Stabenow think this ECONOMIC POLICY!!! Trickle down from GOVERNMENT in the form of an insane jobs buying pyramid scheme where government stooges send billions we don't have to companies the market does not want or need but whose executives happen to be huge democrat campaign contributors. When REJECTED BY THE MARKET, they go bankrupt, democrats throw up their hands and walk away 'cause they "created some jobs" as those people walk out with their box of coffee mugs, join the unemployment line and lose their homes. DEMOCRATS - FAILURE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN.

average joe

Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 11:11 a.m.

This solar panel installation, along with so many others would not be done without the 10% law signed by Granholm. We are all paying for it, either through our electric bills, or by the federal government by way of grants. Electric companies are getting funds from Washington to do this. They aren't 'going green' because it's cost-efficient.


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 8:03 p.m.

SO they are FOR renewable energy. It isn't too costly, then. They just don't want us mere mortals telling them to stop burning coal and start using renewables. vote Yes on prop 3. DTE obviously thinks its the wave of the future since they are using solar power too.

average joe

Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 11:19 a.m.

If someone else was paying for it, you would have it done also. And by someone else, I mean the Government. The real reason DTE is using solar because they are forced to by the state, and they are getting grants(tax money) to have these installed. Vote NO on 3. Keep it out of our constitution.


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 7:40 p.m.

Shep, you are such a FUNNY guy. You really are. Big business is always right except when it isn't and, when it isn't, it's because government is forcing it to do something it doesn't want to do. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL You are aware, aren't you, that he election is ten days away and that there, as yet, exists no state mandate for green energy? You are aware that, at present, poll show Prop 3 going down to defeat, right? And, therefore, DTE must have some other motive behind this project, right? Gee, do ya think it might be because it will help their bottom line. As for gas prices, the highest price for gas came in the summer of 2008 at roughly $4.28/gallon. Yes, it was down to $1.60/gallon due to George Bush''s mismanaged economy and the resultant collapse in demand. And you are aware that the US is on the verge of being the world's largest extractor of petroleum products, passing even Saudi Arabia, right? Based on your frequent factless posts on this subject, I can only conclude that you have your entire investment portfolio sunk in to coal and oil.


Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 10:15 p.m.

Yes, Shep. Because M-live routinely misrepresents what happens in Congress and what one of the senior members of the state's congressional delegation says. Of course, were you to search this, you'd find dozens of similar reports from other sources. All part of the conspiracy, right. Game, set, match. You have no idea whatsoever what you are talking about.


Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 8:38 p.m.

MLive ...well, if they wrote it, it must be true!! LOL The ONLY special tax treatment the oil industry receives when compared to all other US industries is a right down for drilling costs, designed to encourage them to continue to explore for more oil. Until obama was elected, that was a good idea! LOL Oil companies receive zero "SUBSIDIES" in the sense of the billions wasted on obama's green energy fraud buddies, specially lobbied IRS write offs for cronies at GE or the half billion tax dollars GM will never be able to pay back. Those are "subsidies". The GOVERNMENT letting a company keep the money it earns to off set unusual expenses is not a "subsidy" unless you are nit wit Debbie Pelosi or amazing failure Obama working on a new bumper sticker. That oil company write off lets all the companies combined keep enough of their own money to fund less than two hours of federal spending in 2011, and not even half the amount of our money obama is lending a foreign-owned and state-owned oil company for drilling offshore in Brazil! Good luck next time - even a smashed clock is right twice a day.


Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 7:49 p.m.

You, apparently know more about this that does the Republican chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He wants to eliminate those subsidies you day don't exist. So much for this your opinion on this and virtually every other subject about which you spout. You have no idea whatsoever what you're talking about.


Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 4:12 p.m.

Oil companies do not get "tax breaks". They write off their expenses against profits as EVERY COMPANY IN AMERICA DOES. The "tax breaks" line is another bumper sticker lie democrats use in another lame attempt to support their nonsensical ramblings. Oil companies employ hundreds of thousands of people around the world and pay the US Treasury BILLIONS IN TAXES. Any other president would call that SUCCESS, but not obama and his henchmen! Ask your hero obama how much his buddies at GE paid in taxes in 2011? Their fair share?? LOL ..but KEEP THOSE MILLIONS IN CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS FLOWING!! WORST PRESIDENT IN A CENTURY

Angry Moderate

Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 12:53 a.m.

Credits for coal and oil don't make the credits for solar panels any less real. I'm sorry that the facts don't support your worldview, but huffing and puffing about it isn't good for your blood pressure.


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 10:09 p.m.

I'm betting that your so-called "real world" doesn't count the billions in subsidies the coal and oil industries receive and have received for decades, which make green subsidies, by comparison, a spit I'm the ocean. Welcome to the REAL real world.

Angry Moderate

Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 9:35 p.m.

And here in the real world, there really is a tax credit that subsidizes solar panels.


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 6 p.m.

Why? The most economical source of power comes form sources that supply those houses today? ...but because Granholm and our clueless legislator rammed through a socialist "requirement", we are all forced to pay a "sure charge" on our bills every month to pay EXTRA MONEY for this. Guess what? DTE now has more of OUR DOLLARS then it knows how to spend so WE, not DTE, are paying for GIMMICKS like this. So lets celebrate solar power fully! Lets disconnected from the grid and see how much they enjoy "clean energy" at night and the long, cloudy winter! This is another phony jobs buying pyramid scheme like all "green jobs". The market has no need for this absurdity so the politicians in Lansing are FORCING MICHIGAN TO PAY FOR NONSENSE WE DON'T NEED AND DON'T WANT. And you, Kellie with an e, how about a story about how Michigan would benefit by rejecting the solar and wind power lies and how making use of the most economical power sources available will make businesses more nationally and globally competitive and our cost of living lower? Explain how it does not matter one bit what kind of energy we use, broke consumers cannot make the earth colder no matter how much of their bank accounts they waste on wind and solar! piece you can tackle how obama's sophomoric anti-energy radicalism means gas prices will continue to rise indefinitely.


Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 4:01 a.m.

Yes, Granholm probably forced the other 30 States with legal "green energy" goals to set theirs as well ? LoL


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 11:30 p.m.

Well put... jennifer and her cronies put the green revolver to the heads of the utilities..forcing them to follow their crazed agendas..sound familiar...just another blow @ the free enterprise system that built this country...

Tom Whitaker

Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 5:07 p.m.

Perhaps the DTE payment could be applied toward the City of Ann Arbor's fire protection services provided to U of M?


Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

FWIW, the University owns and maintains the fire station on Beal avenue. It pays for all utilities there. At one time it had also bought a fire truck for the city.


Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 3:58 a.m.

The State is responsible for providing fire protection funds to cities, for all public universities, as has been repeatedly reported.

Tom Whitaker

Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 5:03 p.m.

I'd love to see the south-facing roof of Oosterbaan covered with solar panels, too.

Linda Peck

Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 2:47 p.m.

This is good news. We need much more green energy from DTE.

Dog Guy

Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 2:23 p.m.

Boondoggle: term for a project designed to waste time and effort while distracting restive campers.