DTE Energy To Build Solar Array For Ford - A Possible Blueprint For Commercial Sustainable Energy

DTE Energy demonstrates how to provide new services for customers as it ramps up its renewable energy portfolio.
Published: Tue 09 Sep 2014

Michigan utility DTE Energy is teaming with Ford to build what will be the state’s largest solar array at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn.

Solar power and electric vehicle charging stations

The project, funded by DTE Energy, will comprise a solar canopy with the capacity to generate 1.038MW of electricity, while providing 360 covered parking spaces, and includes 30 charging stations for plug-in electric vehicles. A kiosk will also be on site offering general information to visitors about solar power and specific details about the Ford carport.

Under a recently finalized agreement, DTE Energy will construct, operate and maintain the carport for 20 years. Construction is due to begin this month and be completed in early 2015.

“Our fundamental purpose as a company is to make people’s lives better,” explains Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor Company. “We do that by creating outstanding products, by investing in communities where our employees live and work, and by using technology to tackle global sustainability challenges. Those beliefs are embodied in this project.”

The project will be the second largest solar carport in the Midwest, after a 1.56 MW facility at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden in Ohio. That project was constructed under a power purchase agreement with Milford, Ohio-based energy solution provider Melink Corporation.

It is also DTE Energy’s second project with Ford: In 2010, DTE Energy installed a 500kW solar photovoltaic panel system at Ford’s assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan. Energy generated by the system helps power vehicle production at the plant, where the Focus Electric and C-MAX Hybrid among other vehicles are built.


The Ford project is part of DTE Energy’s SolarCurrent initiative, which was launched in 2009. The program supports customers to purchase and install solar PV systems at homes and businesses with financial incentives.

In phase 1, 5MW of solar PV was offered. An additional 2MW is being offered in the current phase 2, which runs through 2014.

DTE Energy receives the Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) generated by the initiative, contributing to the company’s commitment to generate 10% of its energy from renewable sources by 2015.

“The SolarCurrents canopy project is another example of how DTE Energy and Ford are working to build a more energy-efficient and sustainable future,” said Irene Dimitry, DTE Energy vice president, marketing and renewables. “At the same time, this project will help us come closer to meeting Michigan’s renewable energy goals and diversify our energy portfolio.”

Energy efficiency innovation

Ford World Headquarters is also home to a notable energy efficiency innovation.

In 2012, a “living roof” was installed when a 2,500-square-foot portion of the rooftop needed repair. Multiple varieties of sedum were planted to reduce stormwater runoff from the building. The plants also act as insulation, lowering the amount of heat entering the building by 70%, and reducing cooling costs by 5%.