Detroit City Council postpones vote to create Solar Equity Fund

Posted at 11:36 PM, Jul 02, 2024

DETROIT (WXYZ) — A step in Detroit’s plan to create solar farms took a pause Tuesday as city council delayed a vote on creating a fund for the Solar Neighborhood program.

"We had an opportunity to speak to the administration," Councilman Coleman. A Young III read during the meeting. "Other council members have questions regarding this and there are subsequent bills that are in public health and safety. Therefore, we will be asking for a one-week postponement."

“The challenge is we need to know what questions to ask," City Council Pro Tem James Tate said during the meeting. "We hear there’s funds coming and benefits, but there’s still some other questions.”

VIDEO: Detroit announces first three 'solar neighborhoods'

Detroit announces first three 'solar neighborhoods'

The city’s chief financial officer estimates $4.4 million would be needed for the fund as part of the program that would implement solar farms in certain Detroit neighborhoods. While three have been selected, other finalists like a neighborhood near 7 Mile and Lahser roads remain in the running for phase 2.

The goal of the project is in part to fight blight. Some residents at the meeting were on board.

“We need that in our neighborhood," one resident said. "It’s going to help the neighborhood and keep their bills down.”

“I fully wish and am optimistic that Detroit can be a leader in energy democracy by having solar power for residents,” another resident said.

Some of the land in these areas is currently lived on and during the meeting, Young said the city would pay $90,000 and relocation assistance to homeowners, and renters would get relocation assistance on top of 18 months free rent. The homes surrounding the solar farms would also get $15,000 in energy efficient upgrades.

VIDEO: Detroit resident talks about living in 'solar neighborhood'

RAW VIDEO: Donna Anthony talks about living in 'solar neighborhood'

But still, not every member of the council is on board with the plan.

“Solar panels will disrupt and destroy entire neighborhoods. There will be no future affordable housing being built anywhere around a solar farm,” City Councilwoman Angela Whitfield-Calloway said. "Not one resident will benefit from any of the solar panels being built in their neighborhood, not one... It's not a way to address blight and crime."

With a vote postponed until next week, these discussions would likely continue.

“If we do not do this (solar program) and we have to pipe it (power) in, that is an increase on the taxes on the citizens of this town," Young said in response to Whitfield-Calloway's comments. "I for one believe the taxes are too damn high.”

“This is not a rural town, this is urban. I'll continue to oppose it, I'll continue to do it at the top of my voice," Whitfield-Calloway said. "I don't care what you’ve been offered for your property, it's not good for the city to have them in your community.”