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Detroit Edison Building Solar Power Unit On Blues' Detroit Roof

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Detroit Edison and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Tuesday announced the signing of a 20-year agreement that will provide BCBSM and the utility’s customers with renewable energy generated from the sun.

The 200-kilowatt, $1 million photovoltaic system will be installed on the roof of a BCBSM four-story parking structure at the corner of Congress and Beaubien in downtown Detroit. The solar array will cover 31,000 square feet of the 42,000 square-foot roof. It should be operational next spring after design and construction is completed.

The installation is part of Detroit Edison’s pilot SolarCurrents program that calls for photovoltaic systems to be installed on customer rooftops or property over the next five years to generate 15 megawatts of electricity throughout Southeast Michigan.

Trevor Lauer, DTE Energy vice president of marketing and renewables, said DTE expects Solar Currents “to encourage the development of new green energy projects by providing financial incentives to non-residential customers interested in solar energy systems.”

Detroit Edison plans to invest more than $100 million in the program, which requires customers to participate for 20 years. The solar energy systems will be owned, installed, operated and maintained by the utility. In return, BCBSM and other customers that participate will get an annual credit on their energy bill, as well as a one-time, upfront construction payment to cover any inconvenience during installation.

“Blue Cross is making green activities an integral part of how we do business everyday,” said Tricia Keith, BCBSM vice president, corporate secretary and services. “We are pleased to join with DTE in one of the largest efforts in the country to distribute solar energy.”

This is one of a series of green projects at BCBSM’s downtown Detroit campus. In 2006 BCBSM installed a green roof on its other parking structure located at Congress and I-375. The structure earned LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) because of its environmentally friendly design and features that include rain water recycling and a 1/10th-mile-long roof walking path.

The BCBSM photovoltaic system will generate an equivalent amount of power that would be consumed by about 40 homes in a year. BCBSM expects it will produce about 20 percent of the base power for its Lafayette campus.

Detroit Edison continues to offer incentives to residential customers who install their own photovoltaic systems. For more information on both programs, visit http://www.dteenergy.com/solar.

Detroit Edison expects to invest nearly $2 billion in the coming years to add more than 1,200 MW of renewable energy to meet the state’s renewable energy goals. In addition to the solar installations, the company plans to acquire or build wind farms and other green energy facilities for half of that capacity, and contract with third party vendors for the rest.

Detroit Edison is an investor-owned electric utility serving 2.1 million customers in Southeast Michigan and a subsidiary of DTE Energy (NYSE:DTE), a Detroit-based diversified energy company involved in the development and management of energy-related businesses and services nationwide. Information about DTE Energy is available at www.dteenergy.com.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is a nonprofit corporation and independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more company information, visit www.bcbsm.com.

(c) 2010, WWJ Newsradio 950. All rights reserved.

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