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DTE Energy

James Yeo / Creative Commons

Officials at the Fermi 2 nuclear plant near Monroe are investigating the cause of a small fire that happened around 2 p.m. this afternoon.  

Fermi is already shut down to refuel. That’s normal.

Plant workers were testing four huge back-up diesel generators used only in emergencies. Those tests are normal, too. DTE spokesman Guy Cerullo says they've been testing them for a few days.

Michigan customers who struggle to pay heating bills have some additional legal protections from heat shutoffs this winter.

But with the ongoing brutal cold, this will prove a painful winter for people already struggling to pay utility bills. And some households still face the very real prospect of going without heat.

In 2013, the state implemented a variety of new rules outlining how and when utilities can shut off service to residential customers.

user: Liza Lagman Sperl

The DTE Energy Foundation plans to donate $1 million to the Michigan Science Center in Detroit.

According to their press release, the donation will span a period of five years, specifically funding the science center's STEM educational program (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Consumers Energy

State regulators are going to spend the next few months assessing how well Consumers Energy and DTE responded to a massive power outage after an ice storm last month.

It’s estimated 626,000 DTE and Consumers Energy customers lost power after the Dec. 22 ice storm.  

It was New Year’s Eve by the time the utilities restored power to most of its customers.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Heavy snow is blanketing parts of Michigan that just recovered from an ice storm two weeks ago.

Hundreds of thousands of utility customers spent days, in some cases nearly two weeks, without electricity.

“At this point we’re monitoring, and ready to respond, depending on what weather may come,” says Dan Bishop, a Consumers Energy spokesman.

Statewide, utility officials are closely watching to see if weather conditions may threaten to undo the repair work done over the past few weeks.

Consumer's Energy

About 150 thousand Michigan utility customers have spent another cold day waiting for their electricity to be restored.    

Sunday’s ice storm left almost a half million Michigan homes and businesses without electricity. 

As of midday, approximately 125,000 Consumer’s Energy customers were still without electricity.  About 20,000 DTE Energy customers and 7,000 Lansing Board of Water & Light customers were still in the dark as well.

Debra Dodd is a Consumer’s Energy spokeswoman.  She says linemen are doing the best job they can in very cold conditions.

Consumer's Energy

About 250,000 Michigan homes and businesses remain without power after a weekend ice storm that blacked out at least 482,000 homes and businesses and may have caused a Delta jetliner with 180 people on board to slide off a taxiway at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

The wintry blast hit Saturday night. The utilities say it will be days before most power is restored because of the difficulty of working around ice-broken lines.

DTE Energy says 56,000 of its affected 150,000 customers were off line.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

It will be Saturday at least before electricity is restored to all the Michigan homes and businesses that lost power in Sunday’s ice storm.

The storm knocked out power to almost a half million Michiganders.  About 300,000 are still waiting for their electricity to be turned back on. 

Brian Wheeler is a Consumers Energy spokesman.  He says about a third of the nearly 200,000 Consumers Energy customers without electricity are in Flint and Genesee County

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

UPDATE 8:06pm

JACKSON, Mich. (AP) - Winter has arrived in Michigan with an icy blast, sending freezing rain across a wide section of the Lower Peninsula, knocking out electrical service to at least 382,000 homes and businesses and causing multiple crashes around the state.

The state's largest utilities say it will be days before most of those blacked out get their power back because of the difficulty of working around ice-broken lines.

Update: Ice storms knock out power to 294,000 in Michigan

Dec 22, 2013
weather.gov

JACKSON, Mich. (AP) - Winter has arrived in Michigan with an icy blast, sending freezing rain across a wide section of the Lower Peninsula and knocking out electrical service to 294,000 homes and businesses.

The state's largest utilities say it will be days before most of those blacked out get their power back because of the difficulty of working around ice-broken lines.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The Gratiot County Wind Farm has 133 wind turbines scattered over more than 30,000 acres. It's the largest wind farm in Michigan. Each 1.6 megawatt wind turbine can generate enough power for 350 homes.

And this is what it sounds like when you stand directly beneath a wind turbine that stretches more than 450 feet into the sky with the wind blowing between 10 to 15 mph.

(Listen below - You can hear the turbine slow down - I think it's neat, but I'm a nerd.)

DTE

Consumers Energy and DTE linemen return to work today hoping to restore electricity to hundreds of thousands of Michigan utility customers left in the dark by Sunday’s windstorm.

At last report, DTE says it still has about 150,000 customers waiting to have their electricity turned back on.   Consumers Energy has more than 170,000 of its customers waiting for their power to be restored.

Last night was not a good time to be without electricity. Temperatures around the state dipped below the freezing mark.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Four years after raising customers' bills to meet mandates to sell cleaner power, Michigan's biggest utilities are eliminating the fees or slashing them significantly.

Residential customers of DTE Electric may see their $3 monthly surcharge fall to 43 cents under a proposal to state regulators. Consumers Energy's 52-cent monthly fee for residential customers - which once was $2.50 - could go away entirely.

Advocates say the shrinking surcharges for residents and businesses are another reason to make utilities sell more green electricity.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Wolf hunting licenses may be delayed

Michigan wolf hunting licenses are expected to go on sale Saturday. But Ed Golder, Michigan's Department of Natural Resources public information officer, says that date may not work out because of high demand. When the wolf hunting licenses do go on sale, the state will sell up to twelve-hundred of them. The hunt is limited to six counties in the Upper Peninsula. Only 43 wolves will be allowed to be killed.

Energy assistance will help low-income families

State regulators have approved a 99-cent monthly fee to help low-income Michigan residents pay their energy bills and avoid losing electricity, natural gas, or propane. The charge applies to all customers, starting in September, unless a utility opts out of the program. The Michigan Public Service Commission says only a few so far have declined to participate.

According to the Associated Press, if a utility opts out of the program, it can't cut off power between November and April 15th. Michigan's largest utilities, DTE Energy and Consumers Energy, plan to participate.

MI State Police cracking down on human trafficking

Michigan State Police say 10 teenage girls forced into prostitution have been rescued as part of a national crackdown. Detroit Sergeant Ed Price says the girls were removed from motels and other locations last week in Wayne, Genesee, Oakland and Macomb counties. According to the Associated Press, eighteen suspected pimps were arrested, although only one in Flint has been charged so far. The investigation is ongoing.

DTE Energy is looking at improving its own Detroit backyard.

The utility recently bought the old art deco building, that at one time belonged to the Salvation Army, near its downtown headquarters. DTE also purchased a nearby vacant lot.

Randi Berris is a DTE spokeswoman. She says the utility wants to renovate the building and turn the lot into a park. Berris says the intent is to complement other recent efforts to revitalize downtown Detroit.

DTE's St. Clair Power Plant in East China, Michigan.
user cgord / wikimedia commons

There’s a huge disconnect between our use of electricity and the burning of coal. The average American’s use of electricity in a day equals 20 pounds of coal, that’s what you burn on average.

In Michigan, all the coal we use is imported from out of state.

Skiles Boyd, vice president of environmental management and resources at DTE Energy, and Tiffany Hartung with the Sierra Club, organizer for the Moving Beyond Coal campaign, joined us today to discuss our dependence on coal.

We continued our look at energy in Michigan today with coal. DTE Energy's Skiles Boyd and the Sierra Club's Tiffany Hartung spoke with us about what is being done in Michigan to reduce coal emissions and move towards renewable energy.

Also, the new Whole Foods store in Midtown Detroit has garnered a lot of attention. We talked with Kami Pothukuchi and Micki Maynard about how the store has affected the area.

First on the show, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, meaning same-sex couples who are legally married will be recognized by the federal government. The court also ruled in a case that basically makes same-sex marriage in California legal.

But what does that mean for Michigan?

In 2004, voters approved a state constitutional amendment banning recognition of same-sex marriage or similar union. What’s the future of that amendment? What changes will there be for same-sex couples legally married in another state but living in Michigan?

Larry Dubin, a professor at the University of Detroit Mercy law school and Emily Dievendorf, the managing director of Equality Michigan, joined us today to discuss the issue.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

State lawmakers will hold another hearing tomorrow on legislation intended to crack down on scrap metal theft in Michigan.

The legislation would require scrap yards to keep better records and ban cash transactions for commonly stolen items, like catalytic converters and copper wire.

Police, prosecutors and larger industries often victimized by scrap metal thieves support the legislation.

But not scrap metal dealers and recyclers, who complain the new regulations would be a burden.

Those who want to opt out of DTE Energy’s smart meter program now face a fee.

According to MLive, the Michigan Public Service Commission “ruled that DTE can charge customers an initial fee of $67.20 and a monthly fee of $9.80 to opt out of the smart meters.”

Melissa Anders reports that:

cford3 / Wikipedia

Burning coal in a power plant creates byproducts called fly ash and bottom ash.  That ash contains a lot of bad stuff - mercury, lead, arsenic, to name a few.

While some plants ship the dry ash to landfills that accept hazardous materials, others mix the ash with water to make a slurry, which is moved into holding ponds.

Eventually, the water in those ponds is released into the nearest waterway.

The DeYoung Power Plant in Holland.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

In Michigan, we get more than half of our electricity from coal.  All of that coal is imported from other states.

In a couple weeks, you’ll get a chance to weigh in on how we’ll use energy in the future.

When Governor Rick Snyder gave his Special Message on Energy and the Environment last fall, he said he wanted to hold forums around the state to talk about energy.

DETROIT (AP) - Winds that gusted to 60 miles per hour have swept across Michigan, knocking down trees and power lines and cutting off electrical service to at least 195,000 homes and businesses.

Detroit-based DTE Energy Co. says 120,000 of its southeastern Michigan customers lost power in the overnight storm, and about 110,000 remain blacked out at midday Sunday.

Jackson-based CMS Energy Corp. says the storms knocked 75,,000 of its customers off line, and about23,000 were without service at midday Sunday across Michigan's Lower Peninsula.

Enrico Fermi Nuclear Generating Station
NRC.gov / Nuclear Regulatory Agency

Call it Fermi 2 plus one.

DTE Energy wants to build "Fermi 3," an Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) at its Enrico Fermi Nuclear Plant on the shores of Lake Erie near Monroe, Michigan.

The company's Fermi 2 nuclear power plant has been operating there since 1988.

If Fermi 3 is built, it would bring the number of nuclear reactors operating in Michigan up to five (two reactors at the Donald C. Cook nuclear power plant, one at Palisades, and DTE's Fermi 2).

The company has cleared a regulatory hurdle with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the federal agency that oversees nuclear power plants across the country.

The NRC approved Fermi 3's environmental impact statement (EIS), finding there are no major environmental concerns that would keep the project from going forward.

Power magazine has more on the announcement:

Lawsuit over DTE Smart Meters

Dec 17, 2012

A lawsuit over Smart Meters is creating a David and Goliath Situation with two Oakland County homeowners.  Smart Meters are relatively new technologies that use a wireless signal to transmit power use information to the utility.  

Michigan utilities sent hundreds of linemen to the East Coast last week to help restore electricity to areas hard hit by Hurricane Sandy.

Now Consumers Energy is sending two dozen workers to help restore natural gas service to parts of Long Island, New York.

Roger Morgenstern is a Consumers Energy spokesman.    He says restoring natural gas service presents a very different challenge than getting the lights back on after a storm.

Michigan utilities are making their own preparations for Hurricane Sandy.

The storm is expected to strike the East Coast later today, but the hurricane's outer bands are being felt as far west as Michigan.

“Well, right now we’re monitoring the storm….and seeing how it might impact our southeast Michigan service area,” says Scott Simon, a DE Energy spokesman.

DTE has already freed up about a hundred contract linemen to help restore electric power in the Mid-Atlantic States that are expected to take the brunt of Hurricane Sandy.

DTE Energy CEO Gerard Anderson asked Michigan delegates to the Democratic National Convention to oppose a state constitutional amendment increasing the use of renewable energy. The proposed so-called 25 by 25 amendment would mandate 25 percent of electricity come from renewable sources such as wind, solar, or bio-fuels by the year 2025. It will appear on the ballot in November.

Anderson says he’s not opposed to increasing the use of renewable energy, but it should be done through the legislature, not by amending the constitution.

Kevin Lund, a senior geologist at the MDEQ's Department of Remediation, kicks over gravel to reveal the pollution along the Huron River.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Starting today, DTE plans to bring in the heavy equipment needed for the pollution cleanup along the Huron River west of the Broadway Bridge in Ann Arbor.

Black, oily coal tar pollution has been underground for decades.

It was left behind by an old manufactured gas plant owned by the utility company. Two years ago regulators discovered the coal tar was getting into the river. Now, DTE plans to spend between $2-3 million digging it out.

user wheat_in_your_hair / Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - About 8,000 DTE Energy Co. customers in Oakland County will receive credits on future bills after losing service this summer due to a substation fire.

The Detroit News reports Friday that the credits will range from $25 to $250 and show up on bills over the next several months.

Residences and businesses in Royal Oak and Berkley, north of Detroit, lost power for two days last month.

DTE Energy spokesman Len Singer says the amount of the credits will depend on the length of time customers were without electricity.

The newspaper reports that customers can seek a $25 credit if an outage lasts more than 16 hours under normal conditions or more than 120 hours under catastrophic conditions.

The state's biggest electricity provider says customers who don't want a smart meter will have to pay extra for the privilege.

Smart meters use radio signals to allow two-way communication between a customer's residence and the utility.

The meters let utilities know immediately who has lost power, among other things.  The company will also be able to remotely shut off power and turn it back on. 

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