UNDATED (WOOD) — Consumers Energy and DTE Energy on Monday announced a new collaboration that aims to expand solar energy use.

The MI Community Solar project will promote the billions of dollars being invested into community solar projects and future endeavors, educating homeowners and business owners about renewable energy opportunities. The goal is to extend more equitable opportunities to more communities.

Consumers and DTE, the largest energy providers in Michigan, already have green energy programs in place that offer some incentives to customers.

“Our Solar Gardens program allows customers to promote a cleaner energy landscape without the upfront costs and long-term maintenance of owning your own solar panels,” Sarah Nielsen of Consumers said.

Customers can subscribe to their desired number of solar blocks, each of which is a half-kilowatt of solar-generated electricity. Consumers uses those subscriptions to build solar panels faster than it would have done otherwise.

“You are able to support clean energy, going to the grid and pay that small fee of your subscription on your monthly energy bill,” Neilsen said.

Neilsen added you will also receive a credit for the solar energy that you produce.

“We are doing as much as we can as fast as we can to provide our customers in the state of Michigan with clean energy that is both affordable and reliable,” Brian Calka, director of renewable energy solutions for DTE Energy, said.

A recent Michigan State University study found expanding access to solar power would be good not only for the environment, but also for Michigan’s economy. The study focused on community solar farms — essentially mini-solar farms that allow people in that community to subscribe and receive credit on their utility bills as if the panels were on their own roof. Researchers found that over the course of 30 years, the installation and maintenance of those projects would create nearly $1.5 billion for the state economy and generate more than 18,000 jobs.