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DTE Energy

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Leaders in Monroe County say what they thought was a negotiation with DTE Energy over a property tax reduction turned out to be anything but.

Without giving advance warning to negotiators, the utility has asked the Michigan Tax Tribunal to slash its property taxes in the county by nearly 60% over five years, because its coal-burning Monroe Power Plant and its nuclear plant, Fermi 2, have lost value.

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Environmental groups haven't given up trying to stop DTE Energy from building a $1 billion natural gas plant.  

The groups are asking the Michigan Public Service Commission to reconsider the permit it approved for the plant. 

Margrethe Kearney is with the Environmental Law and Policy Center. She says renewable energy becomes cheaper and more reliable every year.  

"And it just doesn't make sense for Michigan to say we're going to build a huge natural gas plant, which means of course we won't be building any of that other stuff," she says.

Consumers Energy

Consumers Energy plans to dramatically increase its use of solar energy by the year 2040.

It's a big part of the utility's first long-term energy plan, required by Michigan's new energy law.

CEO Patti Poppe says solar is clean energy, and the cost of providing it is likely to come down by 35% by 2040.

And she says solar is one of the best options for providing electricity at times of peak demand.

Natural gas plant
World Resources Institute

Utility companies are shutting down some of their older, less efficient coal-burning power plants. 

To generate the electricity to replace those old plants, utilities have to decide whether to build more coal-fired plant or go with natural gas, nuclear, renewable energy, or some combination.

DTE Energy recently decided to replace some of its older coal-burning plants with a natural gas burning plants, incorporating little additional renewable energy.

windmill in field
cwwycoff1 / Flickr Creative Commons HTTP://MICHRAD.IO/1LXRDJM

Michigan's two largest utilities have struck a deal with the group Clean Energy, Healthy Michigan that will keep a renewable energy initiative off the ballot in November.

The group, backed by California billionaire Tom Steyer, agreed to drop the ballot drive in exchange for a commitment from the utilities to rely on 25 percent renewable energy by the year 2030, and to increase energy efficiency by 25 percent by 2030.

Roxbury Group

Cities like Flint and Detroit are redeveloping former industrial sites along their waterfronts.

Now it's hopefully Ann Arbor's turn, says a developer working for DTE Energy. David Di Rita is with the Roxbury Group.

He says DTE Energy wants to redevelop the former MichCon coal gasification plant on Broadway, along the Huron River.  The plant was closed in 1938.  

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

DTE Energy now has the green light to build a billion dollar natural gas power plant in St. Clair County.   But while state regulators approved of the plan, they also made it clear they didn’t like the way the utility behaved during the review process.

solar panels
David Goehring / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Two solar energy companies say DTE Energy is stonewalling to keep them out of the state.

Kevin Borgia is with Cypress Creek Renewables, which plans up to 700 megawatts of new solar farms in Michigan.

He says the company can't proceed without first getting basic information from DTE, like where's a good place to connect to DTE's grid - and what kind of transmission upgrades will be needed.

He says DTE is violating state law by continually failing to meet deadlines to provide the information. "Over 100 times DTE has failed to meet those deadlines," he says.

Michigan officials have approved an energy company's request to build two natural-gas-fired turbines outside Detroit.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A coalition of groups is calling on state regulators to reject DTE’s plans to build a billion dollar natural gas plant.

The utility wants to replace three retiring coal-fired power plants with the new natural gas plant in St. Clair County.  The three aging coal plants represent roughly 20% of DTE’s power capacity. The plants are scheduled to shut down over the next five years.  

wind turbines in a field
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

DTE Energy says it will rely heavily on wind power double its renewable energy production by 2022.

The state’s largest utility submitted its latest plans to comply with Michigan’s renewable energy portfolio standards to the Michigan Public Service Commission Friday. Those standards require utilities to get 15% of their energy from renewable sources by 2021.

DTE energy in Detroit
Ian Freimuth / flickr user

DTE Energy wants to put a new natural gas plant on the grounds of a Ford Motor Company research facility in Dearborn.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality held a public hearing about it Tuesday night.

Ford will shut down some boilers it currently uses to power the research facility. DTE will take over providing that power with the new plant, and provide additional energy it generates to the electrical grid.

Lansing Board of Water and Light

The Lansing Board of Water and Light meets Tuesday to vote on issuing bonds for a new natural gas plant, but opponents plan to make a last-ditch effort to change the minds of board members.

The city-owned utility held public meetings before choosing a natural gas plant to replace two coal-burning plants. "But that was several years ago," says Rebecca Payne with the Lansing Environmental Action Team. "Things on the energy market are changing overnight."

power plant
user cgord / wikimedia commons

DTE Energy is planning to close three of its coal-fired power plants by 2023.  That’s 1,300 megawatts of electricity coming off the books.  But what will take its place? 

Cypress Creek Renewables

Cypress Creek Renewables has been lining up farmland in Michigan for more than a year now.

The object? Leases for enough land to install several hundred megawatts worth of new, emissions-free solar projects. Combined, that would equal the electricity output of a small coal-fired power plant.

But a bill introduced in Congress by U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., could put a halt to those plans, as well as the plans of other renewable energy companies that want to set up shop in Michigan and states across the nation.

Modernizing PURPA, or gutting it?

Wind turbine
Tim Wang / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A group of environmentalists wants Michigan's utility companies to use 30 percent renewable energy by 2030. The wind and solar advocates have started a campaign to get their proposal on the 2018 statewide ballot. 

Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton has been following the story. She joined "Morning Edition" host Doug Tribou to discuss the ballot initiative and its chances of becoming law. 


Eastern Michigan University

Eastern Michigan University flipped the switch on its new co-generation plant Friday, making the university the first in Michigan to meet close to 100% of its campus energy needs.

Cogeneration is an efficient way to use natural gas. The plant burns natural gas to spin a turbine, which creates electricity. The hot exhaust is then funneled to a generator that creates steam heat. 

John Donegan is vice president in charge of facilities. He says the plant will be able to produce 98% of the heat used on campus, and 93% of the electricity.  

"This is the most economical, most environmentally friendly way to mass produce large amounts of electricity and steam," he says.

Christoper Sessums / Flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The corporate tax rate went from 35% to 21% on January 1.  That means a windfall for the state's utilities. 

But because they are regulated by the government, DTE Energy, Consumers Energy and other regulated utilities will be required to pass the savings on to ratepayers. 

DTE says the tax cut will save it about $190 million a year, and Consumers Energy says it will save a similar amount, about $200 million. 

utility pole
Wikimedia Commons / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

Energy companies in Michigan are likely to receive massive tax cuts thanks to the new federal tax overhaul. That means customers could eventually see lower electric and gas bills.

Wealthy benefit most from Michigan’s energy savings plans, study finds

Dec 14, 2017
Consumers Energy's Karn peaker plant
Bridge Magazine

Michigan utilities spend tens of millions of dollars each year on rebates, energy audits, and other programs to help customers cut their energy bills.

Most of that spending isn’t helping the customers who could use the savings the most, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Michigan.

The study from the school’s Urban Energy Justice Lab found energy efficiency programs at Michigan’s two largest utilities disproportionately benefit wealthier ratepayers.

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The state's utility regulator says it will require electricity providers that compete with DTE Energy and Consumers Energy to generate some of their power in Michigan, but the requirement will be implemented after 2021.

The so-called "Local Clearing Requirement (LCR)" is in addition to the requirement in the state's new energy law that those providers also prove they have access to their own generation capacity four years out.  That means they can no longer rely largely on buying electricity at auction from year-to-year to serve customers.

power lines
Stefan Andrej Shambora / Flickr Creative Commons / HTTP://MICHRAD.IO/1LXRDJM

The Michigan Public Service Commission is considering a rule that opponents say would dramatically raise electricity rates for schools, universities and businesses, as well as potentially eliminate competition for Michigan’s two major utilities.

The rule would require electricity providers that compete with DTE Energy and Consumers Energy to supply their customers with energy generated within Michigan — instead of from a larger market.

The Ambassador Bridge
cmh2315fl / creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The owners of the Ambassador Bridge scored a big victory this week. The Canadian government has finally given the Detroit International Bridge Company permission to build a new bridge next to the Ambassador, just a couple of miles upriver from the site of the publicly funded Gordie Howe International Bridge project. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about hurdles the DIBC still needs to clear before the new span can move forward.  

picture of DTE Trenton Channel power plant
Courtesy of DTE Energy

DTE Energy wants to replace three old coal plants with a huge new natural gas burning one. The company expects to break ground in 2019, DTE announced today. That's if it can convince the state that there is a need for the new plant, and that natural gas is the best way to fill it. 

Trevor Lauer, DTE Electric's president and chief operating officer,  says the plant will be capable of producing 1,100 megawatts. That's enough to power 850,000 homes.

Thunderstorm over Lake Michigan.
Pete / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Thunderstorms packing winds exceeding 60 mph caused damage across Michigan, knocking out power to tens of thousands of customers.

Trees and power lines were knocked down by the storms, which started Thursday night and continued Friday morning. Heavy rain and hail were reported in places. Consumers Energy says more than 130,000 homes and businesses it serves lost power.

Authorities say a 72-year-old man has died after a tree fell on a home in western Michigan while severe thunderstorms moved across the state.

Eric Norris / Flickr

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) has partnered with the DivDat Kiosk Network to make water bill payments more convenient. 

More than 15 percent of Detroit homes have their water shut off due to late or unpaid bills. 

DWSD conducted a soft-lauch in March to assess people's attitudes toward the kiosks.  

Michigan Radio

DTE Energy will close its last coal-burning plant by 2040, and reduce its carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, compared to 2005 levels.

The decision comes in spite of the Trump administration's decision to slam the brakes on the Clean Power Plan, which would have allowed the U.S. EPA to regulate carbon emissions for the first time.

While the president and top administration officials continue denying the causal connection between carbon emissions from human activity and climate change, many corporations, including utilities like DTE, have accepted it as fact.

wind turbines
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DTE is looking to focus its wind energy development beyond Huron County after voters there rejected proposals to expand the number of wind turbines in their county.

Huron County has more wind turbines that any other county in Michigan. That's thanks to the favorable winds that make that part of the Thumb ideal for wind energy projects.  

But on Tuesday, voters overwhelmingly rejected two proposals to add dozens more. One of the proposals would have let DTE erect up to 70 additional wind turbines.

Christoper Sessums / Flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Crews are working to restore power to thousands of customers in Michigan after storms packing high winds, snow and heavy rain hit the state.

Authorities say Thursday's weather was a factor in at least one death. The Kalamazoo County sheriff's department says 57-year-old Kelli Roberts of Gobles died following a two-vehicle crash on snowy roads in southwestern Michigan.

Undersheriff Paul Matyas says she was going too fast for road conditions when she tried to pass a truck.

Consumers Energy's Karn peaker plant
Bridge Magazine

Most of us don't think about how much electricity costs at different times of the day. But the state's two largest utilities are planning to change that.

When it's really, really hot and humid out, what do lots of people do when they get home? They turn on, or turn up, the air conditioning.

There are big spikes in electricity demand on the hottest summer days, between 2:00 in the afternoon to 7:00 in the evening.

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