Interest in DTE's Solar Currents so hot it's reached its goal

A DTE Energy program that provided incentives to customers to install solar energy systems on their homes and businesses has reached its goal for alternative energy generation and is no longer taking new applications.

"The SolarCurrents program demonstrated that financial incentives can spur significant growth and interest in an emerging renewable technology," says Trevor Lauer, DTE Energy vice president of Marketing & Renewables. "We are proud of the role this program has played in helping Michigan's solar industry transition to become a viable and growing industry within our state."

Through two programs, one a pilot for customer-owned solar installations, the other for utility-owned installations, DTE has met goals of promoting photovoltaic solar power in order to generate a total of 20 megawatts of renewable energy -- five from residential installations and 15 from the others. DTE handed out $25 million in incentives for nearly 500 installations in metro Detroit and will continue to offer some incentives only for large utility-owned installations on large customers' rooftops and land.

SolarCurrents was created in 2009 to help DTE meet the state's renewable energy goals. The company's plan is to add about 1,200 megawatts of renewable energy, or about 10 percent of all its power -- by 2015. Wind turbines will generate most of that.

DTE says its utility-owned program will represent one of the largest distributed solar energy programs in the country and lead to major opportunities for the emerging solar power industry in Michigan. DTE plans to invest $112 million in the program.

DTE Energy spokesman Scott Simons says DTE will file an amended renewable energy plan next month with the Michigan Public Service Commission. The amended plan will detail any proposed changes from the original SolarCurrents plan, which was approved by the MPSC two years ago.

"Until then, we will be reviewing our entire renewable energy program, including SolarCurrents," Simons says.

Customers can still install solar energy systems and work with DTE to connect them to their electric system, but the incentives are no longer available.

Source: Scott Simons, spokesman, DTE Energy
Writer: Kim North Shine

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