Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

U-M, DTE Energy announce
alternative energy partnership

U-M announced Tuesday that it has purchased renewable energy certificates (RECs) from DTE Energy to support the production of renewable energy as part of the university’s environmental and energy strategy.

As part of the partnership with DTE Energy, U-M is purchasing the renewable energy produced by two wind turbines through the DTE Energy GreenCurrents program. The total amount of energy purchased equals 2 percent of U-M’s total electricity consumption by the Ann Arbor campus. U-M combines all of the electricity supplied from DTE Energy with electricity produced by its own Central Power Plant to power the Ann Arbor campus.

“We are excited to announce this initiative with our partner, DTE Energy, as we continue our commitment here at the University of Michigan to seek out and implement alternative energy programs that are consistent with our position as a leader in sustainable energy,” says Rich Robben, executive director for plant operations. “The benefits of this program are significant.

“From protecting our planet through the production of clean and renewable energy, to displaying our commitment to the economic growth of the alternative energy industry in the state of Michigan, the University of Michigan has been and will continue to be at the forefront of important environmental sustainability initiatives.”

The U-M and DTE Energy partnership is designed to explore and determine the viability of new energy conservation measures through alternative energy technologies. DTE Energy and U-M engineers are working together on energy conservation and optimization initiatives that include both current and future technologies.

DTE Energy has a partnership with Heritage Sustainable Energy, a Traverse City-based company, to purchase RECs for its GreenCurrents renewable energy program. Heritage operates a wind farm near Cadillac.

A key element in U-M’s overall sustainability program involves the use of renewable energy where it is applicable. As examples, U-M has implemented a series of alternative energy programs at its Ann Arbor campus, including an array of photovoltaic panels on the roof of the Dana Building, which houses the School of Natural Resources and Environment, and a solar hot water collector array on the roof of the Central Power Plant. Both initiatives help supplement the energy being supplied to the Ann Arbor campus through the use of clean, alternative energy technologies.

For years, U-M has been a pioneer for alternative energy programs in the state of Michigan, including the conversion of its Central Power Plant in 1962 from coal to natural gas co-generation. Today that plant provides electrical services to 130 buildings on campus and heat and hot water services to nearly 100 buildings, and is twice as efficient as a conventional utility coal-fired plant while producing one-sixth the amount of Green House Gases.

U-M also operates the largest alternative energy vehicle fleet among United States universities with 596 vehicles running on various bio-fuels, and has maintained stable energy usage over the past six years in spite of a nine percent increase in population on the Ann Arbor campus coupled with an 11 percent increase in building area.