Solar power array planned for Ford Motor headquarters

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DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — Ford Motor Co. and utility DTE Energy Co. plan to build a large, roughly $5 million solar energy array at the automaker's world headquarters in suburban Detroit, officials announced Thursday.

The project, funded by Detroit-based DTE, will provide Ford employees in Dearborn with 360 covered parking spaces and power for 30 charging stations for plug-in electric vehicles.

Ford executive chairman Bill Ford said in a statement that the project reflects the automaker's "long history of innovation and a deep commitment to sustainability."

The solar canopy will have the capacity to generate 1 MW of renewable electricity, enough to power 158 average-sized homes. DTE will build, operate and maintain the carport for 20 years. Construction is set to begin in September and be completed in early 2015.

An on-site kiosk will provide information about solar power and details about the Ford carport. The solar installation is part of a DTE initiative called SolarCurrents to help fulfill a commitment to boost its use of renewable energy sources.

Michigan law requires utilities to produce 10 percent of their power from renewable sources by the end of 2015. Voters rejected a ballot initiative two years ago pushed by environmental groups that called for a 25 percent requirement by 2025. Opponents said that would boost electric bills.

The solar project is the second collaboration between Ford and DTE in recent years. In 2010, the companies teamed up to install a 500 kW solar panel system at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant in the Detroit suburb of Wayne. Energy generated by the system helps power vehicle production.

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