DETROIT, MI – With new wind and solar projects planned, southeast Michigan’s energy provider is expecting to double its renewable energy capacity over the next four years.
DTE Energy has submitted its 2018 renewable energy plan to the Michigan Public Service Commission, proposing more than 1,000 additional megawatts of wind and solar projects in Michigan. They’re scheduled to be completed by 2022.
If approved, DTE says the new projects would drive investment of more than $1.7 billion in Michigan and double DTE’s renewable energy capacity from roughly 1,000 megawatts to 2,000 megawatts.
That’s enough clean energy to power more than 800,000 homes, according to DTE.
“The plan we have filed takes another significant next step toward our goal of cutting carbon emissions by more than 80 percent by 2050, while continuing to deliver reliable and affordable power for our 2.2 million customers,” DTE CEO Gerry Anderson said in a statement.
“Due to our substantial investments and use of renewable energy, DTE has already reduced its carbon emissions by nearly 25 percent by driving investments of approximately $2.5 billion over the last 10 years in Michigan’s renewable energy sector and adding 1,000 megawatts of wind and solar capacity – enough clean energy to power more than 450,000 homes,” Anderson said.
DTE is highlighting four key parts of its plan:
- Bringing online the Pine River wind park in Gratiot County later this year, and the Polaris wind park in 2019. Together, the parks will have the capability of generating 330 megawatts and DTE says they will be the company’s largest and most efficient wind parks to date.
- Adding 300 megawatts of new wind capacity in 2020 to supply a new voluntary renewable energy program for large customers seeking to reduce carbon emissions.
- Building two additional wind parks that will provide a combined 375 megawatts and begin operation in 2021 and 2022.
- Installing about 15 megawatts of new Michigan-based solar capacity over the next three years, increasing DTE’s solar capacity by almost 25 percent.
DTE spokeswoman Cindy Hecht said the company is still waiting for approval from the MPSC for its Polaris wind park and all DTE can say for now is that it would be somewhere in mid-Michigan.
Locations for other renewable projects the company has planned between 2020 and 2020 are not available at this time.
Hecht said the 300 megawatts of new wind energy to be added in 2020 will be part of a new voluntary program DTE is proposing.
“The program has been developed at a high level, but the details have not been finalized. We expect to file the plan for this program in the third quarter of 2018 and we would expect approval by the end of the year,” she said.
As for the 375 megawatts of new wind energy to be added in 2021 and 2022, Hecht said it’s too early to say where those projects would go and they have not been sited yet. She said it’s also too early to say where the 15 megawatts of new solar panels would go.
As required by the state, more than 10 percent of DTE’s energy sold to customers comes from renewable projects right now, including 13 wind parks and 31 solar arrays, all in Michigan. The state’s renewable requirement for utilities goes up to 15 percent in 2021.
Last April, DTE launched a new renewable energy program known as MIGreenPower that goes above and beyond the state’s requirements, allowing customers to buy into other DTE wind and solar projects in Michigan that are not counted toward meeting the targets.
More than 1,200 customers have joined the program so far, agreeing to pay slightly higher electric rates.
DTE’s new filing with the MPSC outlines its approach to meeting Michigan’s 15 percent renewable standard, as well as its intent to offer a new voluntary renewable energy program designed for large business customers seeking to reduce carbon emissions.
According to DTE, the new program will provide additional renewable resources beyond those proposed to meet the 15 percent requirement and differs from the MIGreenPower voluntary program.
DTE’s plan also includes the launch of a pilot program for battery storage technology aimed at improving the reliability of energy provided from wind and solar power.
“Beyond this plan, DTE will continue to add additional renewable energy resources,” Anderson said. “Reducing our company’s carbon emissions and developing cleaner sources of energy is a key priority for us. This work will also bring positive economic impacts such as job creation and local community revenue.”
By undertaking more renewable energy projects, transitioning its 24/7 power sources from coal to gas, operating its zero-emission Fermi 2 nuclear power plant and improving options for customers to save energy and reduce bills, DTE plans to reduce carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2030, and by 75 percent by 2040 on the way to its ultimate goal of more than 80 percent by 2050.
DTE says it studied the engineering and economics of Michigan’s energy future for two years before announcing its 2050 goal last year. The company notes the timeframe aligns with what scientists have identified as necessary to help address climate change.
“We’ve concluded not only that the 80 percent reduction goal is achievable, it is achievable in a way that ensures Michigan’s power is safe, secure, affordable, reliable – and sustainable,” Anderson said. “There doesn’t have to be a choice between a healthy environment and a healthy economy, although the debate often gets framed that way. We can have both, if we invest in a smart way.”
DTE says its plans define a long-term shift to produce more than three-quarters of its power from renewable energy and what it calls “highly efficient” gas-fired power plants.