UPPER THUMB — Under a voluntary program by DTE Energy, customers can “reduce their carbon footprint” by contributing to the company’s green energy costs.
“DTE Energy customers will soon be able to reduce their carbon footprint while supporting clean energy sources,” DTE officials said in a press release.
“Starting in April, customers will have the opportunity to buy more of their power from wind and solar farms — two of the most affordable clean energy sources available — through MIGreenPower.”
Cost of the statewide program will be based on DTE’s costs of building and operating the Pinnebog Wind Project. Located in Chandler, Oliver and Colfax townships, the 30-turbine park went online late last year.
Three solar farms in Detroit and Lapeer will also “source” the project, DTE officials said.
“Customers who enroll in the program will pay a subscription fee based on the costs to develop, construct and operate the wind and solar projects, and then will receive credits for the actual energy and capacity provided by those wind and solar projects. The net increase to a customer’s bill in 2017 will be 3.1 cents per subscribed kilowatt-hour in addition to the current retail rate.”
Consumers can go to migreenpower.com and enter their monthly usage and percentage of desired green energy to see how much their monthly bill will increase.
A family that uses 650 kilowatts hours per month, which is about average, would pay around $5 more a month for 25 percent of their energy to be green, according to DTE officials.
For 100 percent clean energy, the cost would be about $20 per month more than their normal bill.
That equals planting 5.19 acres of trees, or taking 1.16 cars off the road, according to the website.
Every DTE customer currently receives 10 percent of their electricity from solar and wind, said Cynthia Hecht, DTE spokesperson.
Although the power paid for is not necessarily directly from the Pinnebog Wind Project, the economics of the park will be used to calculate consumer cost.
Whether or not local customers’ electricity comes from wind farms in Huron County is difficult to tell, said Dave Harwood, DTE spokesperson.
“Where the electricity flows is subject to the laws of physics,” he said. “It goes to where it goes — it goes to where it’s used.”
It all depends on what projects are connected to the grid and how they are connected, he said.
Some of the energy generated by DTE in Huron County may make its way to Detroit, but contrary to what some people believe, none of it goes to Canada, he said.
“That statement that it goes to Canada is down right ridiculous,” Harwood added.
Half of the cost of green energy under MIGreenPower is calculated according to the cost of wind energy, and half according to solar.
Compared to the cost of installing a solar electricity system, this option makes more sense, Harwood said. Home systems can cost between $5,000 and $20,000.
“It’s a flexible, cost-effective way for people to get into the renewable game,” he added.
And it offers the renewable option to apartment and condominium owners.
Participation in this program is purely voluntary and is open to all of DTE’s 2.2 million full service business and residential electric customers, according to the announcement.
A calculator on the program website will help customers see how their monthly bill will change as well as the corresponding environmental impact. For more information on the program and the enrollment process, visit dteenergy/MIGreenPower.com or call 855-613-4445