City announces 9 finalists for Solar Field Host Neighborhoods
- Mayor Duggan aims to transform 250 acres of vacant land into solar energy arrays and generate enough clean energy to offset the electricity used currently by 127 city buildings
- 27 neighborhood groups held meetings to consider hosting solar fields, with 10 submitting formal proposals
- City today announced the 9 finalists and will select 6 winning sites in Q1 2024
Mayor Mike Duggan along with Councilmembers Coleman Young II, Scott Benson, Fred Durhal III, neighborhood groups and community partners today announced the selection of 9 finalists as solar array host neighborhoods. In the first quarter of 2024, the city will select 6 areas, totaling 250 acres, which will provide enough power to offset electricity currently used by the city’s municipal buildings.
Last June, Mayor Duggan announced plans for the Neighborhood Solar Initiative at a community meeting in District 3. This was prompted by a challenge issued by President Joe Biden for cities to use more solar power and the Inflation Reduction Act, which provides federal tax incentives of 30% or more of the costs to renewable energy.
250 acres of would host 33 megawatts of solar arrays, which when connected to the electrical grid, would offset the electricity needed to operate 127 city buildings, including City Hall, police and fire stations, and recreation centers.
9 Detroit Neighborhood Solar Finalists
- Greenfield Park/I-75-McNicohols
- Houston Whittier/Hayes (Outer Drive Hayes)
- I96/ Plymouth (O’Shea)
- Mount Olivet
- State Fair
- Trinity Pickford
- Van Dyke/Lynch
Community Benefits: In addition to having large, blighted areas converted to solar arrays, host neighborhoods will receive community benefits of $25,000 per acre. Based on the proposals of the 9 finalists, applicants are choosing to take those community benefits in the form of energy efficiency upgrades. Neighbors located in the footprint of the final sites will each get $10,000 - $25,000 of benefits per home, depending on the size of the solar array and the number of neighbors included. Each neighbor will choose to use these benefits to reduce their energy burden, for any of the following:
- New windows
- Roof repairs
- New energy efficient appliances
- New furnaces and hot water heaters
- Better home insulation
- Smart thermostats
- Energy-efficient lighting
- Battery back-up for outages
Plan generated broad community interest and support
The naming of the 9 finalist neighborhoods comes after a four-month community engagement process led by the Department of Neighborhoods and the Office of Sustainability, and supported by local nonprofits, as well as environmental and energy experts, that involved dozens of neighborhood meetings to educate residents and determine each neighborhood’s level of interest in hosting a solar array.
Since the start of the process:
- June and July: 27 neighborhoods held community meetings to consider hosting solar arrays
- August: 19 neighborhoods were selected as semi-finalists and were partnered with solar energy organizations to help them develop proposals to be host neighborhoods
- November 1: 10 neighborhoods formally submitted applications to be host neighborhoods
- November 15: 9 finalists were selected
- March 2024: 6 host neighborhoods (≈250 acres) expected to be selected
“I support this project because it represents a much-needed step forward in the battle to mitigate climate change, which will disproportionately impact communities of color,” said City Councilman Scott Benson. “Solar panel arrays that power city buildings will reduce our carbon footprint, produce a cost savings for the city and provide a new and much-needed purpose for 250 acres of vacant land. I hope to see more sustainability projects across the city in the near future.”
Final Selection Process
In the first quarter of 2024, the City will announce the neighborhoods selected to host solar arrays, based on demonstrated community support and a technical evaluation of these sites.
Final approval of the sites, contracts, and any land acquisition will rest with Detroit City Council. Because condemnation will be required by the process, Mayor Duggan has announced that homeowners will be paid double fair market value and no less than $90,000 for their home. Renters in proposed solar areas will receive 18 months free rent and will be moved at city expense.
“As important as it is to address climate change, we are placing the highest priority on respecting long-time homeowners,” Mayor Duggan said. “In selecting the 6 host neighborhoods out of the 9 finalists, we will place the highest weight on how many homeowners and renters support the plan.”
The Mayor announced a January 31, 2024 deadline for the finalists to submit evidence of support. The city is already giving homeowners in the proposed areas firm dollar offers if their community is selected so they can evaluate whether to support the plan.
January 31st deadline for submitting signatures documenting community support.
By January 31, 2024, each neighborhood must submit signatures documenting resident support, including:
- Signatures of homeowners in the proposed solar array willing to sell their homes
- Signatures of renters in the proposed solar array willing to relocate
- Signatures of homeowners in the neighboring community benefits area supporting the project
Each selected solar array will range in size from 20-60 acres, providing an efficient and sustainable energy solution. The O'Shea Solar Park on Detroit's west side, which was the city’s first solar array initiative in 2016, occupies 10 acres. The Neighborhood Solar Initiative aims to leverage the insight and lessons learned from the O'Shea site in developing the current urban solar energy plan.
Thanks to climate change organizations who supported this effort
“We believe this solar program will not only help the residents in the neighborhoods that have opted into this initiative but be a big step in our path to mitigating climate change,” said Jack Akinlosotu, Director of the Office of Sustainability. “I especially want to thank the neighborhood solar partners who worked with our neighborhood groups to support these proposals.”
Helping residents through this process has been a group of community-based neighborhood solar partners, including:
- Green Door Initiative
- D2 Solar
- MI Interfaith Power and Light
- Sustainable Community Farms
- Walker-Miller Energy
- Rescue MI Nature
"We are thrilled at the Green Door Initiative to partner with the city on such a cutting-edge project. The Neighborhood Solar Project has the potential to place Detroit as a national leader in renewable energy. The project design allows everyone to win,” said Donele Wilkins, President and CEO of Green Door Initiative.
“The process run by our Department of Neighborhoods has resulted in nine outstanding finalists for neighborhood solar arrays,” said Mayor Duggan. “This will allow us to replace large tracts of almost completely vacant land in these neighborhoods with a renewable energy source to fight climate change and provide significant financial benefits to homeowners in the stable areas surrounding them.”