Energy Experts Propose Cleaner, More Equitable Alternative to DTE Energy’s Plan

Testimony cites need for accelerated coal retirement, more locally generated renewables

Today, a coalition of clean energy advocates — Vote Solar, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Ecology Center — filed intervenor testimony (part 1 and part 2) in DTE Energy’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). The IRP was filed 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. 

In their testimony, the groups highlight an alternative path forward for DTE, including an accelerated retirement date for the massive Monroe coal-fired power plant. 

“The Monroe Power Plant is the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter in the country. Any unnecessary delays in retiring coal mean additional harm to our climate and public health” says Daniel Abrams, Associate Attorney at the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “DTE’s proposed retirement dates are at odds with Michigan’s coal-free target and must be moved forward.” 

The intervening group’s testimony also emphasizes the need for a swift transition to renewable energy, proposing 1,307 more megawatts of solar and 827 more megawatts of battery storage by 2030 than DTE’s plan. In contrast, DTE proposes a slower and smaller renewable buildout and speculates that a large new fossil gas plant may be needed to replace Monroe. “Rapid and equitable decarbonization is of the utmost urgency, and renewable energy sources like solar have a critical role to play in that transition,” says Will Kenworthy, Midwest Senior Regulatory Director at Vote Solar. “By recognizing the immense value of clean energy and embracing a broad portfolio of renewable resources, DTE can reduce Michigan’s reliance on polluting fossil fuels, while keeping the lights on and bills affordable.” 

The IRP proceeding is happening against the backdrop of widespread, ongoing, and highly publicized power outages in DTE’s service territory. In recent weeks, hundreds of thousands of DTE customers have experienced outages, many for days at a time. 

“The need for a resilient, reliable grid is not just theoretical. We’re seeing the human impacts of unreliable power right now, especially in communities who already experience the worst impacts of climate change and pay disproportionately high energy bills,” says Alexis Blizman, Policy Director, Ecology Center. “It couldn’t be clearer that the status quo is not working for DTE ratepayers. Scaling up local distributed energy is a proven solution to dangerous outages, and one that DTE can and should embrace.”

“An equitable clean energy future for DTE is achievable, and we’ve leveraged state-of-the-art modeling and the latest research to illuminate a strong path forward,” says James Gignac, Midwest Senior Policy Manager, Union of Concerned Scientists. “We’re excited to share our findings with the Michigan Public Service Commission and are hopeful that the final plan moves us closer to the healthy, resilient, clean-powered Michigan that we know is possible. 

An order from the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) on the IRP is expected by late August of this year.

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