Rooftop Solar and Private Generation

Rooftop Solar and Private Generation

Working Together for a Cleaner Future

Let's combine our energy for a smarter, more efficient tomorrow. DTE Energy has a variety of renewable energy initiatives to assist customers who support a cleaner and greener Michigan grid. Read below for more information on rooftop solar and private generation.
Thank you for your interest in helping create a clean energy future for Michigan. While DTE does not install rooftop solar systems for its customers, we have an important role to play in facilitating your system’s connection to the grid.

The Distributed Generation program is available to DTE Energy customers with qualified renewable energy on-site generation. Participating customers are compensated for energy they send into DTE’s distribution system when they fulfill DTE's Renewable Resource requirements.

Customers with private generation systems are still connected to the grid. Your DTE bill will reflect the cost of your service and any credits generated by your system.

Thinking of going solar? Here are some important things to consider before investing in a private system. If you are ready to proceed, please review our Interconnection Process and follow the steps to ensure the safety and reliability of your private generation system.

Rooftop Solar and Private Generation FAQs

Contact Us

Billing Hotline
For Distributed Generation and Net Metering billing questions, please contact: 800.482.8720 and select option #4.
(For all other billing questions, contact: 800.477.4747)

Interconnection Hotline
For questions about new installations, current installations or other questions about the interconnection process, please contact us at 313.235.4333
Distributed Generation Program (Rider 18)

Will DTE pay me for excess energy that I generate and outflow to the grid?

Customers generating electricity from renewable energy resources, which includes solar, wind, hydro, biomass, geothermal energy, municipal solid waste and landfill gas produced from municipal solid waste, can be compensated for their excess generation that is outflowed to DTE’s grid under several DTE programs depending on the size of the generation. Customers with on-site renewable generation of 150 kW or less can qualify for service under DTE’s Distributed Generation Program (also referred to as “Rider 18”). Customers operating a methane digestor system of 150 kW up to 550 kW may also qualify for service under Distributed Generation.Customers with systems that do not meet the size or other qualification requirements of Distributed Generation may call us at 313.235.4333

What is inflow and the inflow charge?

Inflow is the electricity the customer uses from DTE and the utility distribution system. The inflow charge is for electricity flowing into a customer’s premise and is determined by the customer’s rate schedule.

What is outflow and the outflow credit amount?

Outflow is the electricity generated by the customer’s Distributed Generation project that is not used on-site and is instead sent to the electric grid. The outflow credit is the rate for each unit of energy in kilowatt hours (kWh) that is exported from the customer to DTE’s distribution system. This credit is based on the power supply component of the customer’s retail rate, minus transmission charges. Outflow credits can be used in each billing period to offset power supply charges on the bill of the rate schedule to which Rider 18 is attached.  The current outflow credit for a customer on the standard D1 Residential rate is $0.07633/kWh.[1]

How does DTE estimate what size solar array I can install under the Distributed Generation Program?

The program stipulates that the generator is sized so the annual generation (kWh) does not exceed the annual usage (kWh) of the meter it is serving.  DTE divides the annual usage of the meter being paired with the Distributed Generation program (kWh) by 1,139 (8,760 hours annually multiplied by 13%, which is a typical rooftop solar capacity factor in our region).  For example, if an average home consumes 7,800 kWh annually, then the maximum allowable sized solar system would be 6.8 kW (7,800 kWh/1,139 hours).  These sizing guidelines are for estimating purposes only; the actual project sizing will be determined through the interconnection application process.

How does DTE determine usage on new construction or if ownership has changed and the usage history is not for the current owner?

The customer or contractor installing the solar panels is responsible for providing documentation that shows the square footage of the home/building and the expected power usage to help estimate the total approved amount of generation the premise will consume. New homes are compared to similar sized homes in the area to confirm the appropriate generation size.

 

[1] Outflow credits of $0.07633/kWh apply to the first 17 kWh/day.  Energy in excess of 17 kWh/day receives $0.09267/kWh

Billing & Rates

Who should I contact with questions about my bill after I have installed distributed generation?

For questions about the billing once your system is operational, please call 800.482.8720 and select option #4.

Will I continue to receive a bill from DTE after I have installed a private solar system?

Yes. Customers with private generation systems are still connected to the grid and receive energy from DTE when their personal system does not produce enough power to meet their needs.

When will I start earning credit, if any, for my generation?

After a project successfully passes the DTE site inspection - the anti-islanding test is completed, and the meter has been reprogrammed - the solar panels will be left on and will begin generating energy.

When will I start seeing credits, if any, on my bill?

While the meter begins recording all inflow and outflow once the system passes site inspection and is turned on, it generally takes 2-3 billing cycles for you to receive your new DTE bill.  

Will I receive an energy credit or a monetary credit under the Distributed Generation program?

Customers will receive a monetary credit for their outflow. If a customer’s system outflows more kilowatt hours to cover the cost of the power supply portion of their monthly bill, the “excess credit” will be “banked” and deducted from the power supply portion of a future billing cycle of the rate schedule to which Rider 18 is attached. 

How will the Distributed Generation program impact my electric bill?

The impact to your electric bill will depend on several factors, including energy consumption, generation, and system size.  You can download this calculator and input your inflow/outflow data to estimate the impact to your bill.

Battery Storage & Generators

Does DTE require Distributed Generation or Net Metering customers to install battery storage?

No. DTE does not require customers to install battery storage.

Do I need to notify DTE if I am planning to add a battery storage system?

Yes. It is important for DTE to confirm your battery will not interact with the distribution system. Both new and existing customers adding battery storage need to notify DTE, so we can update your system information and help ensure you maintain your eligibility for service under Distributed Generation or Net Metering. To submit a new application with the addition of a battery storage system, please visit DTE’s PowerClerk site.

Why is my battery storage not permitted to discharge energy to the grid?

Battery storage systems do not qualify as a renewable energy resource and therefore are not permitted to discharge energy back to the distribution system.

I own or am considering purchasing an emergency generator for my home and business. Can I sell back the energy I don't use?

No. You cannot sell back energy from an emergency backup generator. An emergency generator is not an approved renewable energy resource and therefore is not eligible.  Businesses with a generator that is greater than 250 kW may qualify for the Dispersed Generation tariff (Rider 13) and receive voluntary dispersed generation payments for operating your generation at the request of the DTE.  For more information, call 800.482.8720 (select Option 4).

Net Metering (Rider 16) to Distributed Generation (Rider 18) Conversions

Are Net Metering customers being switched to the Distributed Generation Program?

By law, existing Net Metering (Rider 16) customers will be converted to the Distributed Generation (Rider 18) upon reaching their 10-year anniversary of participation in the Net Metering program.

How will I know when I have switched programs?

DTE will notify you of your upcoming 10-year anniversary in the Net Metering program at least 30 days prior to your conversion.

How will the Distributed Generation program impact my electric bill?

The impact to your electric bills will depend on several factors, including energy consumption, generation, and system size, which makes it difficult to estimate.  We have created an Excel calculator to help you estimate the change to your bill.  You can download this file here.

Upon converting from Net Metering to Distributed Generation, will I lose my Excess Generation Bank?

No.  Customers converting to the Distributed Generation program will receive a check for their Excess Generation Bank balance, if applicable, approximately 60 days after their conversion.

How does this affect my SolarCurrents contract?

Moving to the Distributed Generation program does not affect your SolarCurrents contract.  The SolarCurrents contracts were for the purchase of renewable energy credits for 20 years and will continue under the new program.

I already have a solar array; can I expand my project size and remain on Net Metering?

You can expand your system however, if you do, the entire system will be moved to the Distributed Generation program, not just the expansion.

Interconnection Process

How long does it take to complete the interconnection process?

If the application, fee, customer paperwork, engineering drawings, installation, and Parallel Operating Agreement (POA) are all completed in a timely manner, the process typically takes 5-6 weeks. This illustration shows the steps involved in the interconnection process.

What is the check processing procedure and how long does it take to process the application fee?

Once the customer or installer’s check reaches the DTE Interconnection Department, it will generally be processed in 2-3 business days.  The Distributed Generation Program application fee is $50.

Who do I call to check on the status of my interconnection application?

If the customer’s installer completed the application, the installer will be able to log in to the PowerClerk website and give their client status updates on the application.  If the customer completed the application through PowerClerk, they can use their user ID and password to log in and check the status.  If you still have questions, please call 313.235.4333.

Is it okay to install equipment that is not on the approved equipment list on DTE’s PowerClerk website?

No.  DTE relies on the California Energy Commission’s (CEC) list of approved equipment to make determine which technology is safe and reliable.  For more information, visit the CEC’s Solar Equipment List website.

What is a Parallel Operating Agreement (POA) and why do I need to sign one?

A POA is a required legal document that needs to be signed prior to a DTE site visit.  The document will be emailed to the customer from DocuSign for electronic signature.  It is an agreement between the customer and DTE that explains that both parties will operate their respective systems safely.  Without a signed POA, the customer’s system is subject to shut-off. If necessary, DTE can also mail a hard copy of the agreement to the customer for signature. 

What should I do to prepare for the DTE site visit?

The customer does not need to be present so long as all equipment is outside and accessible by DTE field technicians.  The panels should be clear and free of any debris (snow, leaves, etc.) and the inverter should be on and the AC disconnect switch should be in the “OFF” position.

How do I know if I passed the site visit and inspection?

If the site visit is successful and the system passes inspection, the AC disconnect switch will be left in the “ON” position and the system will be operational.  If the system fails the site inspection, the customer and installer will receive an email from DTE identifying the issues.  Once the issues have been addressed, the customer must notify DTE to request a second site visit.

Can I switch my AC disconnect switch to “ON” before I pass my site inspection?

No.  It is illegal to operate in parallel with DTE’s electric grid without approval from the appropriate personal from DTE. Connecting to the grid without approval would violate Michigan rules and regulations and could cause safety issues.  Furthermore, connecting to the grid before a solar system is tested and approved by DTE personnel, may cause the generated energy from the solar system to be measured as inflow energy resulting in a higher than usual monthly bill. The site visit includes properly configuring your meter to be able to measure both inflow and outflow energy. The AC disconnect MUST be left in the “OFF” position until the site passes DTE’s inspection. DTE personnel will turn your switch to “ON” once the system has passed.

Why does the AC disconnect need to be within 5 feet of the meter?

This is done for safety reasons to protect the DTE field technician operating on the system, the customer and emergency services. The AC disconnect switch and the meter MUST be within 5 feet of each other for the technician to be able to safely operate on them at the same time. Also, emergency services personnel will be able to isolate the solar system in case of emergency because they are familiar with the location of the meter.

Miscellaneous

Does DTE recommend working with particular solar installers?

No.  DTE does not provide installer recommendations. We encourage you to do your research as you would for any major project or purchase. Consider requesting quotes from multiple companies, visiting the Better Business Bureau’s website, and reading reviews from credible sources.

Will customers who install solar on their home still lose power if DTE has a power outage?

Yes. Inverters are designed to shut off if the utility loses power which is required by national standards for safety purposes.  Customers with generation sources not connected to the grid (e.g., those with backup generators and/or battery storage) may avoid power loss in such instances.

I just purchased a home with solar panels, what do I need to do?

First, you should transfer the electric service into your name by calling 800.477.4747.  Then you need to call the DTE Interconnection Hotline at 313.235.4333 and provide your name and address to have a new application created and approved.  You will also need to sign a new Parallel Operating Agreement.  If the previous homeowner installed the system under the Net Metering program, you will continue under the program for the remainder of the 10-year period before transitioning to the Distributed Generation program.

Does DTE want to use my land for renewable energy development?

If you are interested in having your property considered for wind or solar development, please call the Renewable Energy Development Hotline at 855.227.3245.