In his Feb. 1 column, Larry Ward advocates for a “diverse” mix of energy. We agree Michigan’s energy future should incorporate new, cleaner ways of meeting the state’s energy needs. But Ward fails to recognize our responsibility to balance reliability, affordability and renewable sources of energy to best meet Michigan’s needs.
Michigan remains a manufacturing economy that runs 24/7. Due to age and environmental regulations, DTE Energy will retire three of our five remaining coal-fired power plants over the next five years. These retirements represent 19 percent of our current generation portfolio — enough to power over 700,000 homes. While this energy infrastructure is going away, the need for reliable, affordable and clean power is not.
DTE sees the retirement of these coal plants as an opportunity to move Michigan toward a cleaner, more diverse energy portfolio. In May 2017, we announced plans to reduce carbon emissions 30 percent by the early 2020s and 80 percent by 2050. This is one of the first and most aggressive carbon reduction commitments of its kind in the country. Additionally, DTE will expand its role as Michigan’s largest investor in renewable energy by incorporating an additional 4,000 megawatts of wind and solar parks, which is projected to comprise 40 percent of the energy needed to serve our 2.2 million electric customers.
We are committed to developing cleaner energy infrastructure, and it is important to remember that when most of us power down to sleep at night, Michigan’s economy and energy grid do not.
So DTE conducted extensive modeling, which is now under the scrutiny of state regulators in what is known as an “Integrated Resource Plan.” This rigorous analysis conclusively showed that a natural gas power plant is the best option to meet the 24/7 needs of our customers.
In July 2017, DTE filed a Certificate of Necessity, proposing a state-of-the-art 1,100 megawatt power plant fueled by clean, low-cost, and abundant American natural gas. If approved, this plant would represent a $1 billion investment in Michigan’s energy grid, create approximately 520 skilled-trades jobs, and would serve the state’s families, businesses, and around-the-clock manufacturing economy for decades to come.
The Certificate of Necessity process is transparent and provides opportunity for stakeholders to weigh in or submit competitive alternate plans, though no alternate bid was submitted.
Our customers expect and deserve a thoughtful path forward as the state pursues an increasingly clean energy future. DTE is committed to responsibly powering Michigan with affordable, reliable energy to meet the needs of our state’s families, businesses, and 24/7 manufacturing economy.
Trevor F. Lauer
president and CEO, DTE Electric