DTE Energy, Detroit Edison’s parent company, said this week itis in the market to acquire a natural gas supplier. The company isin exploratory stages right now but hopes to have some kind ofagreement by the end of this year, a DTE official said at thecompany’s annual meeting.

“Natural gas is becoming the fuel supply of choice,” saidAnthony Early, CEO of DTE. “To be a successful player, we’re goingto have to get more involved in the gas business. Right now, we’rehaving to buy gas from other companies and then bid against them onprojects.”

One possibility for DTE is a take over of MCN’s MichCon gasutility. “They are very attractive,” Early said. “But two peoplehave to be interested.” MCN officials would not comment.

Along with the merger search, DTE reported Wednesday a 10%higher first quarter net income of $115 million on revenues of$1.02 billion, which grew 8.4%. Fully diluted earnings per sharewere $0.79 a share compared to $0.72 in 1Q98. DTE’s mainsubsidiary, Detroit Edison, serves more than 2 million customers inSoutheastern Michigan.

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