DTE Electric plans to spend about $9 billion to add 4,400 MW of solar, 1,000 MW of wind and 760 MW of battery storage in the next decade, according to the utility’s integrated resource plan filed Thursday at the Michigan Public Service Commission.
The plan includes converting the two units at DTE Electric’s 1,270-MW coal-fired Belle River power plant to a natural gas-fired plant in 2025 and 2026.
DTE Electric’s “proposed course of action,” or PCA, calls for retiring two coal-fired Monroe power plant units totaling 1,535 MW in 2028, 12 years ahead of previous plans. It would shutter the plant’s remaining units in 2035, completing the utility’s exit from coal-fired power.
With the release of its resource plan, dubbed CleanVision, DTE Electric accelerated its carbon emissions targets to a 65% cut by 2028 from a 50% reduction from 2005 levels. By 2040, the Detroit-based utility aims to slash its carbon emissions by 90%, up from 80% under its previous goal. The utility expects to have net zero carbon emissions by mid-century.
“The PCA ensures electric reliability, resource diversity and flexibility to mitigate risks facing the energy industry,” Joyce Leslie, DTE Electric director of business planning and development, said in testimony supporting the plan.
In total, the 20-year plan calls for adding 6,500 MW of solar, 8,900 MW of wind and 1,810 MW of battery storage through requests for proposals. The timing and amounts could change depending on market conditions and other factors, the utility said.
“The PCA allows DTE Electric to time affordable, cost-competitive solar and energy storage projects early in the planning period in advance of initiating Monroe’s phased retirement,” Leslie said.
Converting the baseload Belle River plant to a gas-fired peaking resource will help DTE Electric reliably retire the Monroe plant, the fourth largest U.S. power plant at 3,066 MW, according to the utility, which has 2.3 million customers in southeast Michigan.
DTE Electric estimates that converting the Belle River plant to gas from coal will cost about $130/kW compared with about $800/kW for a new combustion turbine.
After retiring units 3 and 4 at the four-unit Monroe power plant later this decade, DTE Electric intends to retire the generating station’s units 1 and 2, totaling 1,531 MW, in 2035.
DTE Electric aims to replace Monroe’s last two units with 946 MW of low- or zero-carbon, dispatchable resources. The utility selected a gas-fired combined cycle turbine with carbon capture and sequestration as a “placeholder” replacement, but other possibilities include small modular nuclear reactors and mid- to long-duration storage, according to the resource plan.
DTE Electric asked the Michigan PSC to pre-approve $135 million in capital expenses for the Belle River gas conversion and $8.7 million for existing demand response programs.
The utility for the first time formally integrated an environmental justice analysis into its IRP process.
DTE Electric estimates that the plan will reduce its compounded annual revenue needs by 2.18% a year compared with a status quo power supply plan. Other factors could affect its electric rates, the utility said.
The tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act allowed DTE Electric to accelerate its plan while saving consumers money, Dave Ruud, DTE Energy CFO, said Oct. 27 during an earnings conference call.
“The ability to transfer tax credits will eliminate the need for tax equity partners, which allows us to retain an additional 40% of the investment for our projects,” he said.
The Sierra Club supports DTE Electric’s accelerated shift from coal, but continuing to burn it at two units of the Monroe plant until 2035 is too long given the urgency of the climate crisis, Mike Berkowitz, Sierra Club Michigan Beyond Coal Campaign senior representative, said Thursday in a statement.
The environmental group plans to scrutinize whether the Belle River plant can be replaced with renewable energy instead of gas, he said.