Local DTE customers weigh in on company’s 20-year clean energy plan

By: Brendan Losinski | Metro | Published December 19, 2022

 The phasing out of coal plants, such as DTE Energy’s Monroe Plant, pictured, was among the key topics at a public forum hosted by the Michigan Public Service Commission.

The phasing out of coal plants, such as DTE Energy’s Monroe Plant, pictured, was among the key topics at a public forum hosted by the Michigan Public Service Commission.

Photo provided by Ryan Lowry


METRO DETROIT — DTE Energy, which provides energy to 2.3 million customers in southeast Michigan, is preparing its 20-year strategy for how it will implement more clean and renewable energy into its energy production.

Many in the community are weighing in on the region’s future energy plans.

The plan is known as the CleanVision Integrated Resource Plan. On Dec. 12, the Michigan Public Service Commission hosted a public hearing for local residents to voice their perspectives on what they want to see from DTE and what they think of the company’s plans moving forward.

Derrell Slaughter is the Michigan energy advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of several local advocacy groups that make up the DTE Can Do Better Coalition, which took part in the meeting.

“A consistent topic brought up was people wishing for DTE to accelerate the coal plant retirements and to use more renewables,” said Slaughter. “A lot of people were talking about affordability. Renewables can be a key in reducing costs in that regard, and that was discussed. We had grandmothers saying that they probably wouldn’t be around to see these changes, but they want to do this for their grandkids.”

DTE was asked not to participate directly in the hearing, but DTE’s CleanVision Integrated Resource Plan spokesperson, Ryan Lowry, said DTE officials were paying close attention to what was being said.

“We want to thank the Michigan Public Service Commission for hosting the hearing Monday, and for our customers and fellow Michigan residents outside of our service territory who provided their thoughts on the CleanVision Integrated Resource Plan,” said Lowry. “We look forward to continued feedback from and collaboration with all stakeholders as the MPSC reviews our plan to support DTE’s and Michigan’s clean energy future.”

He added that more information about DTE’s CleanVision Integrated Resource Plan can be found at dtecleanenergy.com.

Lowry said that DTE has been keeping a close eye on what its customers are asking for from their energy provider and are already taking steps to become more eco-friendly, portions of which are included in the plan.

“DTE undertook a year-long, comprehensive analysis that reflected insights shared by our customers and other stakeholders across eight public open house sessions and six technical stakeholder workshops,” he said. “These sessions allowed us to build a plan, grounded in affordability and extensive reliability modeling, that surpasses the CO2 emissions reductions timelines in the MI Healthy Climate Plan, accelerates the retirement of our last two coal-fired power plants by 12 years, and develops enough Michigan-made renewables to power about 4 million homes.”

“While they are doing a lot of good, we are focusing on what else they could be doing and how to keep it affordable,” responded Slaughter. “There is a concept called ‘energy burden,’ which is what people are paying for utilities. One out of four Detroiters are considered energy burdened.”

Slaughter went on to say that there is a lot to like in DTE’s current 20-year plan.

“In this plan, they are proposing the retirement of their two remaining coal plants in Monroe and the Bell River plant in St. Clair County in 2025 and in 2026,” he said. “They also are proposing turning one of them into a gas plant. They would be retiring them in phases. We’re pleased to see expansions in solar between 2023 to 2043 and an expansion of 8,900 megawatts of wind power over that time period.”

However, groups such as the NRDC would like to see these steps go further and want the public to be an active partner before DTE begins to implement the plan at some point in 2023.

“I think the message that we wanted to make loud and clear was that this plan will affect millions of people,” he said. “We want this plan to really go far in terms of seeing their energy efficiency and renewable resources grow. They have made strides in terms of coal plant retirement. We want this plan to be scrutinized. We want them to be a leader in clean energy.”

Slaughter said some legal action has already been taken to ensure that input is received and that DTE customers are properly informed.

“The NRDC has formally intervened in the legal process in the DTE plan,” he said. “Several environmental groups have intervened in the case. The public hearing was a chance for people who aren’t part of this case to have their voices heard. … There’s several resources for the Public Service Commission at www.michigan.gov.mcsc. We’re putting together a site for the coalition. If people want to get involved, there are ways they can do it. We’re planning on future public hearings … in the next months.”