DTE donates solar panels to Metro Detroit colleges, church

Advances in solar technology have DTE Energy installing new equipment at a solar facility, but the older solar panels and power inverters are being put to good use.

Solar equipment from the utility’s first solar facility, in Scio Township, near Ann Arbor, is being replaced with newer technology. The facility started producing solar power in 1997 and was decommissioned this summer for the updates.

“It reached the end of its usefulness for us, but it certainly has applications for the groups that we’re donating the solar panels to,” says Scott Simons, spokesman for DTE Energy. “It was among the first for commercial applications, and the materials and the tech has changed in that time.”

In the metro Detroit area, receiving solar panels will be Oakland Community College’s Auburn Hills campus, which will install 30 panels on the roof of the Advanced Technology Center and use them for the Electrical and Alternative Energy curriculum; Monroe County Community College, which will install 26 panels to be used in the alternative energy curriculum; E-Three Labs, Detroit, which will install 20 panels for technical training in Detroit and River Rouge; and St. Elizabeth Church in Wyandotte, which will incorporate two panels into other renewable energy systems at the parish.

Elsewhere in Michigan, panels were given to the Huron Area Technical Center in Bad Axe and the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association in Dimondale, as well as to an orphanage in Haiti.

Simons says the company is also excited about installing the new technology at the Scio Township site, which should start producing electricity in the next month. Technology has come a ways in the past 13 years, and some of the new panels will be able to track the sun as it passes through the sky.

The utility’s first-ever donation of panels came about because organizations were contacting them to see if anything was available, he explains.

“It’s a good way to recycle and repurpose solar panels,” he says. “We want more people to get involved in solar energy.”

Source: Scott Simons, DTE Energy spokesperson
Writer: Kristin Lukowski