HURON COUNTY – Paul Funk, a land surveyor for DTE Energy, has sat in on plenty of Huron County Planning Commission meetings dealing with a proposed solar energy ordinance.
During planner’s special meeting in July – held to further work on a solar energy ordinance for the county – Funk discussed landowner rights and letting people have the right to participate in solar projects.
Then, Funk made a bold claim.
“DTE has 1,000 megawatts of renewable,” Funk said. “The tax credits will be gone in two years. We’ll do four times the renewables we have without tax credits.”
The federal solar tax credits currently allow anyone to deduct 30% of the cost of installing a solar energy system from federal taxes. Starting in 2020, that number will go down to 26%; down to 22% in 2021; then down to 10% for 2022.
DTE Spokesperson Cindy Hecht says DTE is expected to double their renewable energy output within the next five years, and quadruple its current renewable portfolio by the time it fully exists in 2040.
Hecht said its regular course of business for the company to monitor legislature activity at the federal, state, and local levels.
In July, DTE was given conditional approval by the Michigan Public Service Commission to purchase three wind energy farms – Isabella I, Isabella II and Fairbanks Wind – which would add 455 MW to their generation mix.
“The MPSC will not allow us to put anything up that is not financially right by our rate payers,” Funk said, with Hecht similarly adding that as a public utility, all of DTE’s projects and rates it sets for customers, whether by renewable energy or fossil fuels, have to get approval from the MPSC.
DTE Energy owns or is involved with numerous renewable energy projects across Michigan, including 31 solar arrays. Of those projects in Huron County, DTE owns McKinley Wind, Sigel Wind, Pinnebog Wind, Echo Wind, and Brookfield Wind.
Third parties own Big Turtle Wind and Pheasant Run Wind parks.
In solar energy, DTE owns Lapeer Solar Park, one of the largest solar farms east of the Mississippi.
Hecht said that it is difficult to say what future projects could happen, given the different zoning laws in place all over Michigan.
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