Solar arrays come to 3 Detroit neighborhoods fighting blight and climate change

Three solar neighborhoods were chosen by the City of Detroit helping the environment - and tackling blight at the same time.

Samjuan Pettes’ neighborhood in the Gratiot and Findlay is one of the neighborhoods announced by Mayor Duggan that will feature solar arrays.

"I bought it off the Land Bank about two years ago, I've been working on it," said Pettes. "The city came and gave me an offer."

Now Pettes has opted to sell his home through a voluntary buy-out by the city, with the land from his home to be used for the solar panels.

"We take some of the most blighted areas in the city and used them for renewable energy," said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

Last year the city began it’s search for neighborhoods interested in removing blight by installing solar fields. The final three neighborhoods emerged from eight finalists.

The other two are in the Van Dyke-Lynch and Star Fair communities.

"Hopefully city council approval is next which in this town is never a given," Duggan said.

The three areas selected will create nearly 104 acres of solar arrays which will help create clean energy to offset the electricity used by the city's municipal buildings.

City council members attending Monday’s press conference applauded the move.

"We’re going to have cleaner air, this is going to be better for our children, they’re going to be healthier," said Councilman Coleman Young II.

Residents living near the solar arrays also benefit.

"The adjoining neighbors get $15,000 to $25,000 a house to upgrade their homes with new furnaces, new roofs, new windows," Duggan said. "Because these are neighbors that hung in there for years watching the blight spreading."

"The windows that we're going to get save us energy, the roofing will save us energy," said Measha Parker.

This is not city’s first foray into solar arrays. O’Shea Solar Park has one from a project developed by DTE in partnership with the City of Detroit. The solar energy generated there, goes to DTE's general grid.

Officials and residents see this as a win-win for all involved and they hope other neighborhoods jump on board.

"Put the word out to your neighbor that we are cleaning up Detroit, now we are taking steps forward, said Councilman Fred Durhall III.