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Should Ann Arbor rely on DTE versus decentralized microgrids to go green?

There is much controversy about how communities interact with fossil fuel based utility companies to increase the use of solar power as an alternative energy source. Calling the project with DTE “community solar” reminds me of 1970s era Republican legislation using words like clean air in giveaways to companies that were polluting.

Critics say a recently announced low-income solar program by DTE Energy stretches the definition of “community solar” and will shortchange participants. The program is a result of a settlement signed by DTE Energy and about a dozen Michigan environmental groups, which see it as a positive step toward expanding solar access in lower-income areas. Others, though, say it will deny customers the financial benefits of owning solar and largely benefit the utility. “It doesn’t come close to meeting hardly any of the hallmarks of a community solar program,” said Rob Rafson, a regulatory witness for Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association, which was the lone group to object to the settlement. “It’s a piece of crap … and it is aggressively financially positive to DTE in every respect.”

Tom Perkins, Energy News Network, June 29, 2021

More Power Lines or Rooftop Solar Panels: The Fight Over Energy’s Future

The president and energy companies want new transmission lines to carry electricity from solar and wind farms. Some environmentalists and homeowners are pushing for smaller, more local systems. The nation is facing once in a generation choices about how energy ought to be delivered to homes, businesses and electric cars — decisions that could shape the course of climate change and determine how the United States copes with wildfires, heat waves and other extreme weather linked to global warming. On one side, large electric utilities and President Biden want to build thousands of miles of power lines to move electricity created by distant wind turbines and solar farms to cities and suburbs. On the other, some environmental organizations and community groups are pushing for greater investment in rooftop solar panels, batteries and local wind turbines.

Ivan Penn and Clifford Krauss, New York Times, July 12, 2021

Contrast Ann Arbor with Brooklyn Microgrid

The Brooklyn Microgrid reimagines the traditional energy grid model, with the concept of a communal energy network. While the utility provider still maintains the electrical grid that delivers power, the actual energy is generated, stored, and traded locally by members of the community, for a more resilient and sustainable clean energy model. To learn more visit www.lo3energy.com

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