- DTE Energy on Tuesday broke ground on a new $1 billion gas-fired power plant in Michigan, a key part of the utility's plan to reduce carbon emissions by more than 80% and to entirely phase out coal generation by 2040.
- The Blue Water Energy Center will be the most efficient plant in the state, DTE said, and is expected to begin producing energy in 2022. The plant will help replace three coal-fired plants the utility plans to retire by 2023.
- This spring, the utility announced a 2018 Renewable Energy Plan proposing to double renewable capacity to 2 GW by 2022, largely through the addition of large-scale wind resources. Along with Consumers Energy, DTE has also committed to targeting at least a 50% clean energy goal by 2030.
DTE's push to add more renewables came at the insistence of Michigan residents and out-of-state activists.
Billionaire hedge fund manager and environmental activist Tom Steyer funded a petition drive to require 30% of Michigan utilities' electricity sales to come from renewable sources by 2030. Pressed by the support for a ballot initiative, DTE and Consumers jointly announced their clean energy goal in May, with specifics to be included in their upcoming Integrated Resource Plans.
DTE officials call Tuesday's gas plant groundbreaking a "significant" step for its clean energy goals.
"As we continue to retire coal-fired power plants – all of them by 2040 – we need to complement wind farms and solar arrays with high reliability assets," DTE Chairman and CEO Gerry Anderson said in a statement. "As we Michiganders know well, the wind doesn't always blow, and the sun doesn't always shine in our beautiful state. And that's why we need natural gas-fueled plants like the Blue Water Energy Center."
Once it begins operating, Anderson said it will represent the utility's "single largest step in reducing carbon emissions to date."
Within the next year, the utility will also begin operating the Pine River and Polaris wind parks, with a combined capacity of 330 MW. The Blue Water Energy Center will be capable of producing 1.1 GW.