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As many of you know, I'm a freelance web developer. As you can probably guess, I have a general policy of not posting anything about my clients on any personal blogs, especially this one, for obvious professionalism reasons.

However, as long as doing so doesn't violate any issues of confidentiality/etc, and as long as the client is OK with it, I do make a rare exception once in a blue moon. Today is such a day.

5 minutes ago, the following press release was posted on the website of Mercy High School in Farmington Hills, Michigan (posted in full as it's a press release):

July 6, 2011

DTE Energy to build solar installation on Mercy High School roof
Farmington Hills high school participates in SolarCurrents program

DETROIT – DTE Energy and Mercy High School in Farmington Hills today announced the signing of a 20-year agreement that will provide the utility’s customers with renewable energy generated from the sun.

The 400-kilowatt, $2.5 million photovoltaic system will be installed using 125,000 square feet of roof on the high school at 11 Mile and Middlebelt roads. The solar array should be operational in September after design and construction is completed.

The installation is part of DTE Energy’s pilot SolarCurrents program that calls for photovoltaic systems to be installed on customer rooftops or property over the next four years to generate 15 megawatts (MW) of electricity throughout Southeast Michigan.

"We’re pleased that Mercy High School will be the first private high school to participate in SolarCurrents, which is one of the largest distributed solar programs in the country," said Trevor Lauer, DTE Energy vice president, Marketing & Renewables. "We’re seeing that the program has encouraged the development of new renewable energy projects by providing financial incentives to non-residential customers interested in solar energy."

DTE Energy 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 company. In return, Mercy High School and other customers that participate will get an annual credit on their energy bills, as well as one-time, upfront construction payments to cover any inconvenience during installation.

"Mercy High School is thrilled to partner with DTE Energy in this exciting solar energy venture,” said Cheryl Delaney Kreger, Mercy High School president. “We are honored to be a Michigan Green School and know that leading this initiative will continue to make a difference in our community."

Through the efforts of the school's GREEN Club, Mercy has been recognized this year as an Official Michigan Green School - Emerald Level. GREEN Club members documented various environmental activities such as cell phone and battery recycling; promoting a school-wide effort to reduce energy consumption and 'reduce, reuse, and recycle' in the school. In the past two years, Mercy also has installed variable frequency drives on its large air handler drive motors and installed high-efficiency lighting and occupancy sensors throughout the building and in its parking lot. Mercy is also taking steps to more efficiently control its heating and air conditioning.

DTE Energy expects to invest nearly $2 billion in the coming years to add 1,000 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. For more information about the solar program, visit

DTE Energy (NYSE:DTE) is a Detroit-based diversified energy company involved in the development and management of energy-related businesses and services nationwide. Its operating units include Detroit Edison, an electric utility serving 2.1 million customers in Southeastern Michigan, MichCon, a natural gas utility serving 1.2 million customers in Michigan and other non-utility, energy businesses focused on gas storage and pipelines, unconventional gas production, power and industrial projects, and energy trading. Information about DTE Energy is available at, and

Farmington Hills-based Mercy High School, a Catholic college preparatory school for young women, fosters spiritual, intellectual, moral, physical and cultural development. Enriched by students from diverse backgrounds, Mercy nurtures compassionate leaders committed to addressing human needs, working for justice and serving the poor. Visit for more information.

#    #    #

For further information, members of the media may contact:
Scott Simons   DTE Energy    (313) 235-8808

Julie Earle    Mercy High School    (248) 893-3591
Thomas Sklut Mercy High School (248) 893-3538

I can't begin to tell you how geeked I am about this, and how proud I am of Mercy for participating in this program.

I should also note that this sort of program makes an amazing amount of sense in so many ways; it's win-win all around:

--The energy company gets a huge, ready-made, perfectly flat surface to install a huge solar panel array, without having to lease the land, without having to run electric cables/water pipes/other infrastructure out across miles of fields or wilderness, and without having to drive miles out into the boonies for service/maintenance, which saves them tons of installation/maintenance costs

--There's zero negative impact on the local ecology/wildlife, since no additional fields/grasslands are being covered over or disrupted by solar panels

--The school gets a large discount on their own energy costs while also gaining a huge positive PR bragging point about leading the way in clean energy production

If I'm understanding how the arrangement works correctly, it basically amounts to the school renting out their roof space to the utility, which isn't being used for anything else anyway, after all. In return, they're paid for the space with an upfront payment and ongoing credit for their own electrical use...without ever having to spend a dime on the upfront cost of installation or infrastructure themselves, which is always the biggest hurdle for people/businesses to deal with when considering solar panels.

I should also note something from the first paragraph of the press release: Construction/installation hasn't even started yet, but they expect it to be installed, up & running in time for the new school year in September. That's less than 2 months from start to finish. I'm not an engineer, but that sounds pretty damned efficient for a project this big to me...

This is huge. Kudos to Mercy (and DTE). I've never been more proud to have them as a client.

Update: In related news, check this out:

Renewable Energy Production Surpasses Nuclear

Renewable energy production has surpassed nuclear energy production in the U.S. according to the latest issue of Monthly Energy Review published by the Energy Information Administration. Production of alternative energy is also beginning to close in on domestic oil production.

During the first three months of 2011, energy produced from renewable energy sources (biomass/biofuels, geothermal, solar, hydro, wind) generated 2.245 quadrillion Btus of energy equating to 11.73 percent of U.S. energy production. During this same time period, renewable energy production surpassed nuclear energy power by 5.65 percent. In total, energy produced from renewables is 77.15 percent of that from domestic crude oil production.

UPDATE 2: For anyone considering posting something negative or snarky about religious/private schools vs. public, or anything even remotely along those lines, DON'T GO THERE. I'm already a bit uneasy about mixing my professional and personal lives by posting about a client here in any context in the first place; I'd hate to have to delete the whole diary.

Originally posted to Brainwrap on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 07:13 AM PDT.

Also republished by Kosowatt.

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