Solar deployment in the United States has been remarkably regional. While California, the Southwest, the Northeast and parts of the South have led in deployment, the Midwest and the Plains States have installed very little solar to date.
This may be beginning to change. Following on the heels of a pending deal where AEP has agreed to build 400 MW of solar PV in Ohio, Detroit’s DTE Energy has announced that Inovateus Solar will break ground next spring on 45 MW of PV projects in Lapeer, Michigan, 100 kilometers north of Detroit.
On December 11 Michigan regulators approved a DTE’s contract with Inovateus to build up to 50 MW. DTE and Inovateus are currently planning 30 MW at one site and 15 MW at another in Lapeer, and are evaluating sites for the remaining 5 MW. Inovateus will serve both as developer and engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for these projects, which they expect to complete by the end of 2016.
DTE plans to own these two plants, which will make the 30 MW project the largest utility-owned PV plant east of the Mississippi River when complete. This project is also larger than any currently operational PV plant in the Midwest, although larger projects are under development.
The utility is currently developing five other solar projects in Michigan, however the largest of these is only 1.9 MW and all five total just under 5 MW. When combined with the two that Inovateus is building, this will triple the installed solar capacity in the state, which GTM Research and SEIA estimate at 25 MW.
DTE says that with wind and biomass, its available renewable energy sources stand at nearly 1 GW. The company also notes that the 50 MW of solar which it is developing will allow it to exceed the requirement that it source 10% of its electricity from renewable energy.
Michigan’s 10% by 2015 Renewable Energy Standard represents a low-to-moderate level of ambition among the 38 states that have renewable energy mandates or goals.
Update: The headline of this article was changed on December 22 at 11:27 AM Eastern Time (U.S.) to reflect new information that Inovateus will also serve as the EPC contractor. This information was also added to the article body.