- DTE Energy announced yesterday plans to retire eight coal-fired units at three Michigan locations, which combined to generate a quarter of the utility's power last year, the Associated Press reports.
- The company is shuttering its River Rouge, St. Clair and Trenton facilities, with the closures slated to take place in the next seven years.
- The new retirements, along with three others previously announced, will be replaced by wind, solar and natural gas. Closing the plants is a part of DTE's "fundamental transformation" in how the it generates power, the company said.
More coal plants are hitting the dust as DTE Energy is the latest utility to announce more unit closures.
By 2023, DTE Energy will retire 11 of its 17 coal units, part of a long-term transition away from the fuel and towards an embrace of cleaner and more flexible resources.
“The way DTE generates electricity will change as much in the next 10 years as any other period in our history," DTE Energy Chairman and CEO Gerry Anderson said in a statement. Over the past five years, DTE has bolstered its renewable energy production, which now accounts for 10% of the company’s total sales.
The utility said it is working with the communities impacted by the plant retirements, and will transition employees working at these plants into new roles at other facilities.
"DTE Energy will work with the state of Michigan on a plan that ensures electric reliability for our 2.2 million customers, places a premium on affordability, and is seamless for our employees and the communities that are home to these plants," Anderson said.
Earlier this year, DTE retired three coal generating units due to age and projected future costs.
Environmental advocates immediately hailed the decision. “This is big news," said Regina Strong, director of The Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in Michigan.
"These announced closures will dramatically improve the health of the communities surrounding these plants, as well as provide an opportunity for a just transition for communities and workers,” Strong said in a statement. “DTE should immediately begin discussions with the community to develop a responsible transition plan that includes a concrete timeline for the retirements."
Earthjustice also praised the decision, but said the utility needed to do more to bring on additional renewable energy.
“Coal plants like River Rouge, Trenton Channel, and St. Clair are costly, polluting dinosaurs that should be retired as expeditiously as possible. We’re gladdened that DTE Energy is starting that retirement process, and urge the company to ensure that today’s announcement is a binding commitment,” said Shannon Fisk, Earthjustice managing attorney.
Fisk said it is "critical" for the utility to not only ramp up clean energy investments, but also provide "a just economic transition for the employees and communities that have relied on the wages and taxes paid by these coal plants for the past more than forty years.”