DTE Energy Receives Poor Grades from Advocates on Planned Gas Investments
Ahead of House task force hearing, coalition calls for energy regulators to hold major utility accountable
In a report card released today, a coalition of clean energy and environmental justice organizations highlighted room for improvement in DTE Energy’s 20-year Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). The IRP was filed with the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) in November of 2022 and serves as a proposal for how DTE plans to provide electricity for its 2.3 million customers for the next twenty years.
The report card comes just months after widespread and recurring power outages in DTE service territory made headlines across the state and sparked the creation of a House Energy Reliability, Resilience, and Accountability Task Force. The task force is scheduled to hold a public hearing in Detroit on Friday, June 16, with further details to be announced.
In particular, the report card critiques DTE’s failure to keep energy bills affordable for ratepayers and ensure equitable access to clean energy. The company has long failed to fully recognize the value of customer-owned solar and energy efficiency, both of which can reduce energy burdens and accelerate the transition away from polluting and expensive fossil fuels.
While DTE earned a B- for retiring coal plants — the company’s plan proposes a 2028 closure date for 2 units of the massive Monroe coal-fired power plant — the report card also points out DTE’s continued investments in fossil gas, which harms public health and puts customers at financial risk. As a result, DTE earned an F for avoiding additional fracked gas infrastructure.
The utility’s highest grade was awarded for lobbying against the public interest, with advocates highlighting that DTE continues its pattern of making big-dollar contributions to politicians working against beneficial climate and energy policy.
The MPSC’s decision on the IRP is expected by August of this year. Commissioners are also currently considering DTE’s proposed rate case, in which the company requests a staggering $622 million from ratepayers, and which advocates are already pushing back against.
Members of the coalition commented:
“There’s no question that DTE’s resource plan is an improvement over previous ones, and we do commend the company for the progress they’ve made,” said Jenna Warmuth, Midwest Regional Director at Vote Solar. “That said, incremental progress simply isn’t enough. DTE must make meaningful steps toward an equitable clean energy future, and we urge the MPSC to hold the company accountable.”
“In February and March, I felt like I was living in the Twilight Zone when two long and painful power outages – plus a flooded basement – left my family and home in disarray,” said James D’Amour, a volunteer leader at the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. “Thanks to DTE, we are out $20K due to a sump pump failure and that doesn’t account for the emotional stress those outages caused for my wife and myself. The Michigan Public Service Commission should leave DTE’s unaffordable rates, failing infrastructure, and dirty energy in the past.”
“An equitable clean energy future for DTE is achievable,” said James Gignac, Midwest Senior Policy Manager for the Union of Concerned Scientists. “It’s clear that DTE and state regulators must do more to improve DTE’s resource plan and move us closer to the healthy, resilient, clean-powered Michigan that we know is possible.”
“When I look at this report card, I see the real life experience of us DTE customers and it shows why we need the Public Service Commission to demand better from this utility,” said Donele Wilkins of Detroit. “Being a majority Black city, we have a lot of folks who are diabetic and rely on insulin that needs refrigeration. We have a disproportionate number of families with low incomes who have a hard time replacing food gone bad when the fridge goes out. We need reliable, clean, safe energy and we need the Commissioners to step up and demand DTE provide just that.”
“Michiganders pay the highest residential costs for energy in the Midwest and have some of the worst reliability in the country,” said Nick Dodge, Communications Director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “The Michigan Public Service Commission must ensure DTE closes all dirty, expensive coal plants by 2030, boosts investments in energy efficiency and speeds up the transition to affordable, reliable clean energy.”
“DTE must make aggressive investments in efficiency, renewables, and energy storage for a stronger Michigan,” said Derrell Slaughter, Michigan clean energy advocate at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “The time is now to meet the crisis we’re in head on. DTE has all the tools it needs to move quickly and invest in providing clean, reliable, and affordable energy for their customers.”