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Solar system dedication takes places in Monroe

MONROE, Mich. (AP) -- A solar energy system installed on the grounds of a religious community in southeastern Michigan is part of a broader commitment to sustainable living, those involved in the project said Friday.

The 518-kilowatt system was dedicated on the Immaculate Heart of Mary Motherhouse Campus in Monroe. It cost $2.6 million and consists of more than 2,000 photovoltaic modules. It covers three acres and links to the DTE Energy Co. electric grid.

"Today marks another significant milestone along that journey as we continue our commitment to sustainable living and learning," Sister Mary Jane Herb, IHM president, said in a statement.

DTE's SolarCurrents program is installing photovoltaic systems in southeastern Michigan to generate 15 megawatts of electricity by 2015, enough to supply power to about 2,000 homes. The equipment is being placed at company facilities or on customers' property or rooftops.

"It is projects like this that demonstrate the importance of having a diversified energy portfolio in our state," said Gerry Anderson, DTE Energy chairman, president and CEO.

The nuns get an annual payment from DTE for use of their property, and the utility has a 20-year contract to keep the solar energy system there, said DTE spokesman Scott Simons. He declined to say how much money Immaculate Heart of Mary would be paid.

Detroit-based DTE owns, operates and maintains the system. It says the new installation has the capacity to power nearly 70 homes.