2017-03-12 / Marketplace

Solar panel fields to be operational by May

810-452-2640 •

The $100-million solar panel project in Lapeer, under construction since last spring, is expected to be operational in early May. 
Photo by Jeff Hogan The $100-million solar panel project in Lapeer, under construction since last spring, is expected to be operational in early May. Photo by Jeff Hogan LAPEER — Under construction since last spring, contractors are in the home stretch in the installation of nearly 200,000 solar panels at two locations in Lapeer.

Busy wrapping up the $100 million DTE Energy project are crews from Inovateus Solar and J. Ranck Electric. The alternative energy system is expected to be online in about eight weeks.

“We’re targeting the early part of May,” said DTE Energy spokesperson Cindy Hecht. “It’s a really exciting time. This has been such a large project to complete, but it’s nearly done.”

Work currently going on at both sites includes perimeter fence installation, prepping for stabilization and seeding as well as safety labeling. At both sites, approximately 75 percent of the fence posts have been installed. “We expect all fencing to be completely installed by the second week of April. Landscaping activities will take place in April,” Hecht said.

The project will also include an educational component sought by the City of Lapeer. In the area of a pathway that crosses DeMille Road and near the pedestrian tunnel that goes below the railroad tracks (south of Chatfield School) a miniature solar array will be installed by DTE Energy. A kiosk will include information about how the solar panels operate.

Lapeer City Manager Dale Kerbyson commented, “I’m excited for the community roll-out of the project. This has been a huge project for DTE Energy and for Lapeer.”

The County Press will publish specifics regarding a public ceremony to commemorate completion of the solar panel project when they become available.

The City of Lapeer and DTE Energy signed a 20-year easement lease of the DeMille and Turrill parcels that’s projected to earn the city nearly $500,000 per year. Ten, one-year, lease extensions are an option to continue the partnership beyond the first 20 years.

Construction of DTE’s Lapeer solar parks created approximately 150 temporary jobs, while at least five permanent jobs will result once the project is operational in May.

The larger of the Lapeer solar projects, located on approximately 150 acres off DeMille Road, is one of the largest utility-owned solar arrays east of the Mississippi River and more than 15 times larger than any other solar installation in Michigan. The second project is located off Turrill Road on 100 acres of land. All of the power generated by these facilities will be fed into the energy grid and distributed to those who need it.

To promote and advertise the solar panel project in Lapeer, DTE plans to install a monument style sign visible to I-69 motorists on the south side of the DeMille project site.

Last summer new utility poles were sunk along DeMille and McCormick roads to connect the solar fields, and connect the locally produced energy to the grid at a DTE substation on Imlay City Road (across from Walmart) in Lapeer.

In addition to the Lapeer project slated for completion soon, DTE in 2016 also constructed solar projects in Ypsilanti, at the GM Warren transmission plant and in southwest Detroit.

DTE now has 31 solar parks in operation capable of generating enough clean energy to power more than 14,000 homes. The addition of these five solar projects will position DTE Energy to exceed a state mandate requiring electric utilities to supply 10 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources.

DTE is Michigan’s largest investor in renewable energy, including wind and solar, having driven investments of more than $2 billion since 2008, with $67 million of that spent to develop solar arrays.

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