Detroit OKs solar array, park for vacant west side land

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — A solar array and park will be built on vacant land on the west side of the city under a plan approved Tuesday by the City Council.

DTE Energy will install the solar panels on 10 acres near Interstate 96 and Greenfield at the former O’Shea Park. The Council OK’d a 20-year lease with the utility.

DTE officials said Tuesday the project is expected to generate more than $1 million in tax revenue for Detroit over the life of the lease and produce enough energy to power about 450 homes. The agreement also calls for a lump sum payment of $25,000 from DTE toward the park upgrades.

“This area has seen neglect for a number of years,” District 7 City Councilman Gabe Leland said at Tuesday’s formal session, adding the project could be a catalyst for green infrastructure in Detroit.

“I’m excited about providing more robust opportunities for the community,” added Leland, who chairs the council’s Planning and Economic Development subcommittee.

The energy company plans to begin construction in May. It’s slated for completion at the end of 2016. Officials said the solar project will beautify the park.

DTE also has committed to invest more than $1 billion over the next 10 years to modernize the city’s energy grid, the company noted in a Tuesday news release.

The array is “part of our efforts to help spur economic growth and prosperity in the neighborhoods we serve,” said David Meador, DTE’s vice chairman and chief administrative officer.

Detroit Planning Director Maurice Cox told council members there will be numerous meetings for community input on the park project.

“We are going to turn this into an extraordinary amenity for that neighborhood,” he said.

DTE has four others solar projects under development, including an array in Ypsilanti, one at the GM Warren Transmission plant, and two large-scale projects in Lapeer. By the end of the year, DTE says it will have 31 solar arrays in operation capable of generating enough energy to power more than 14,000 homes, the company noted.

The city established partnerships with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Erb Foundation, Walker-Miller Energy Services and the Greening of Detroit to support improvements to O’Shea Park, as well as to provide workforce development and energy efficiency programs to benefit the local community, officials say.

As part of the partnership, the solar project will provide education opportunities for students to learn about sustainability and renewable energy through interpretive signs, rain gardens and partnerships.

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