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DTE Energy to Slash Carbon With More Natural Gas, Renewables

Michigan’s DTE Energy plans to add more natural gas-fueled power generation as part of a broader plan to cut the company’s carbon emissions by more than 80% by 2050.

"Over the past two years we have studied the engineering and economics of Michigan's energy future very, very carefully," said CEO Gerry Anderson. "We have concluded that not only is the 80% reduction goal achievable -- it is achievable in a way that keeps Michigan's power affordable and reliable.”

DTE said it plans to achieve a 30% reduction by the early 2020s, 45% by 2030, 75% by 2040 and more than 80% by 2050. It plans to incorporate “substantially more renewable energy” into its portfolio. But it also would transition its 24-hour/seven-day power sources from coal to natural gas. It also plans to continue to operate the Fermi 2 nuclear power plant.

The long-term goal is to produce more than three-quarters of its power from renewable and natural gas sources, the company said. It plans to add 3,500 MW of gas-fired capacity and construct 6,000 MW of renewable energy capacity, supplementing the 1,000 MW of renewable capacity it has built since 2009.

Previously, DTE retired three of its coal-fired power plants: Marysville, Harbor Beach and Conners Creek. In 2016, three additional coal-fired generating units also were removed from service. This process is planned to continue with the retirement of the River Rouge, Trenton Channel and St. Clair power plants in the early 2020s, the company said.

"We have already begun fundamental transformation in the way we produce power, and we will press that transformation forward steadily in the years and decades ahead, sharply improving environmental outcomes in the process,” Anderson said.

DTE’s plans are in step with the broader industry as more coal-fired power plants are expected to be retired, benefitting natural gas-fueled as well as renewable energy development.

“The electricity industry is planning to increase natural gas-fired generating capacity by 11.2 GW in 2017 and 25.4 GW in 2018…” the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in a recent note. “If these plants come online as planned, annual net additions in natural gas capacity would be at their highest levels since 2005.

“The upcoming expansion of natural gas-fired electricity generating capacity follows five years of net reductions of total coal-fired electricity generating capacity. Available coal-fired capacity fell by an estimated 47.2 GW between the end of 2011 and the end of 2016, equivalent to a 15% reduction in the coal fleet over the five-year period.” 

DTE has an electric utility serving 2.2 million customers in southeastern Michigan and a natural gas utility serving 1.3 million customers in Michigan. DTE’s portfolio includes nonutility energy businesses focused on power and industrial projects, gas pipelines, gathering and storage, and energy marketing and trading.

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