Plans Revealed To Build Solar Array In Decommissioned Detroit Park

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DTE Energy has plans to build a solar energy array on 10 acres of vacant public property in a west-side Detroit neighborhood.

The array itself would be built on a 20-acre area of city-owned land south of I-96 at Greenfield Road known as O’Shea Playground. The site was decommissioned by the city’s recreation department in 2011 and has since been stripped and damaged by fire.

The solar panels would be situated eight to 10 feet off the ground and would be tilted away from I-96. They would generate about two megawatts of power with zero emissions.

Before the project can begin, the Detroit City Council needs to sign off on it. The council is expected to vote on the matter Tuesday and whether or not to approve a 20-year lease between the city and DTE.

“Not only does this project provide a productive use for a large piece of vacant, blighted land in an environmentally sustainable way, it will bring considerable benefit to the O’Shea Park community,” said Tom Lewand, group executive for jobs and the economy within Mayor Mike Duggan’s administration. “We are using this project as a catalyst to help make the surrounding neighborhood one of the most energy efficient in the city.”

According to a report in the Detroit Free Press, some residents are hesitant about the plan because the city hasn’t spent much time addressing that area.

“I got a sense that while there is still some questions lingering and still some concern because this is not your typical development, the audience was relatively positive,” City Councilman For District 7 Gabe Leland told the Free Press.

If the agreement is approved, the City of Detroit will receive a one-time payment of $25,000 under terms on the lease. DTE will also maintain part of the city property around the 10-acre array, freeing up about $400,000 in the city budget.

The $25,000 from the lease will be put towards improving a two-acre section of the O’Shea site. The vacant O’Shea rec center is scheduled to be demolished.

According to DTE, between this site and a much larger 250-acre solar energy project in Lapeer, the two sites will generate about 50 megawatts, enough to power 9,000 average-size homes with zero-emission solar energy.

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