Growing wind and solar power in Michigan

Michigan is moving forward in the use of renewable energy as well as the natural gas. Both DTE and consumers Energy have planned to replace coal-fired plants with solar plants in the state.

Throughout Michigan, there are solar and wind arrays, more than 200 acres solar collection by DTE in Lapeer and Consumers Energy wind farms located in Tuscola County.

Consumers Energy serves almost all places of tri-county area, except some parts of Livingston Oakland counties. Earlier this year the energy company came up with a plan to generate energy without coal by 2040. 60 percent of natural gas and 40 percent of renewable energy would be made use instead of coal.

Consumers Energys current plan is to eliminate coal fire and fuel oil plants as they are reaching end. The youngest coal-firing unit would last up-to 2040. The oldest would give up working by 2021. Another fossil fuel plant will not be built.

According to Consumers Energy, retiring these plants will allow them to diversify their energy portfolio and delve into more renewable energy. Consumers Energy estimates that the cost will stay below the national average as the plan is executed.

Some of these old units are used during peak demand times, especially during summer air conditioning season. This is when solar energy can be used effectively.

The shut-down of the coal-fired plants which produced 8,000MW of energy which will be substituted with the solar energy, wind energy, battery storage and buying energy from a plant switching from coal to natural gas.

Today, 32 percent of the energy is generated by coal, whereas up-to 70 percent energy was produced in 2005. The plan comprises adding 5,000 Mw of solar energy through the 2020s.

DTE Energy is also promoting green energy, and plant efficiency. They have a solar energy generating land of 300 acres near Lapeer.

Adam Harris, CEO of The Green Panel said, The solar industry has grown tremendously. His company, in Brighton installs business and residential solar arrays. He also said that both the sides have grown. The increase in electric cars leads to more solar charging stations, which facilitates the company.

Rural areas like Lapeer, are more likely to have both solar and wind energy farms.

He also said The price to install solar array has gone down from $4.50 per watt to install $2.75 per watt. These savings are partially offset by possibly higher permit fees by the local municipality. Ordinance on where they can be installed can also discourage solar.

Harris said, A solar array for a medium sized home could cost $15,000 to install. He said his company would look at energy bills for a year and come up with a solar array that will cover the utilities, or generate just below the needed amount of energy, because energy companies dont want homes producing more than they use.

Solar array installations have 30 percent of federal tax. Residents can expect to take 30 percent of the total installation price and use it as tax writ off.

Harris believes that solar is the future, and has seen seniors buy arrays in order to eliminate their utility bills if they are living on a fixed income.