AAPS investing in clean energy, achieving 100 percent clean electricity goal

Ann Arbor Public Schools environmental sustainability efforts are taking a big step forward as the district has enrolled in DTE Energy’s MIGreenPower program. AAPS recently became the first K-12 district in Michigan to enroll in the program. Electricity use at all school buildings will be credited to Michigan-based wind and solar facilities, eliminating Scope 2 carbon emissions in the school district within a couple of years. These are the indirect carbon emissions from purchased electricity.

AAPS is already a leader in renewable energy, currently receiving six percent of the district’s electricity from over one megawatt of solar panels on school buildings. AAPS produces more solar power than any other single organization in Washtenaw County. 

Solar Panels on A2 STEAM at Northside
Solar panels on the roof at A2 STEAM at Northside were installed last summer.

It would be nearly impossible for AAPS to generate enough green electricity on-site to meet the district’s total power needs. By AAPS enrolling in MIGreenPower, DTE will invest in wind and solar projects in Michigan to offset 80 percent of the electricity used by the district annually, an estimated 24,000 megawatt hours. This investment, combined with the district’s solar panels, and the state of Michigan’s 15 percent Renewable Energy Portfolio standard will allow the district to achieve their goal of 100 percent of their electricity to be through renewable power generation. Every year, the environmental benefit of the district’s 100 percent clean electricity commitment will avoid 15,000 tons of CO2 -eq emissions which are equivalent to not burning 74 rail cars’ worth of coal annually according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Calculator.

”AAPS recognizes that climate change is a very real concern and this is another bold step to keep our commitment for a safe and healthy environment to the Ann Arbor community now and for generations to come. This is a win-win-win partnership,” said Rebecca Lazarus, President of the Board of Education.

Superintendent Jeanice K. Swift shares, “In joining the MIGreenPower program, AAPS is the first Michigan K12 school district to take such a bold action to reduce our carbon footprint by supporting the construction and operation of renewable solar and wind projects right here in Michigan. This step represents a key component of our overall plan and progress to serve as a national model for sustainable K12 school practices in the Ann Arbor Public Schools.” 

AAPS considered enrolling in MIGreenPower previously, but at the time it was deemed cost prohibitive. In recent years however, the cost of wind and solar power has continued to fall to make enrolling in the program more cost effective, and the district might even see cost savings over the 20-year agreement. 

“We know many of our customers are looking for clean energy solutions, and DTE has a suite of programs available to help our customers reduce their impact on the environment,” said Brian Calka, director, Renewable Solutions, DTE Energy. “In fact, more than 30% of Ann Arbor’s electric usage is already attributed to DTE’s renewable energy projects. DTE is committed to helping the City of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County achieve their respective sustainability goals, and we are excited to welcome AAPS into the MIGreenPower program as part of that effort.” 

DTE is Michigan’s largest producer of renewable energy and the company plans to add thousands of megawatts of new clean energy projects to support the growth of its MIGreenPower program. Today, DTE’s MIGreenPower is among the largest voluntary renewable energy programs in the country.

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