Public campaign will empower DTE Energy customers to say ‘no’ to expensive gas and ‘yes’ to affordable renewable energy

DETROIT, Mich. - Today, a coalition of nine clean energy groups launched Power Up Michigan, a public campaign calling for clean, renewable power instead of the $1 billion natural gas plant DTE has asked state regulators to approve.  Through this campaign, DTE’s customers and other Michiganders can contact DTE as well as state legislators to show their support for cost-effective solar, wind and energy efficiency, rather than another generation of reliance on imported fossil fuels.  The organizations include: Ecology Center, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Environment Michigan, Michigan Environmental Council, Michigan League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists and Vote Solar.

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Last week, several of the groups filed expert testimony at Michigan’s Public Service Commission (MPSC) urging regulators to require DTE Energy to evaluate renewable energy sources before building its proposed billion-dollar natural gas power plant. The testimony showed how DTE Energy failed to prove that its natural gas proposal is the most prudent option, a step mandated by state law. The groups presented two separate analyses to the MPSC showing that using clean energy sources like wind and solar would cost less for DTE Energy customers than building, fueling and operating the gas plant, with the savings estimates ranging from $339 million to $1.2 billion.

Power Up Michigan partner organizations issued the following statements in support of local clean energy progress:

“Michigan families and businesses will bear the brunt of paying for DTE Energy’s proposed gas plant and have the most to gain from local investment in more affordable options like wind and solar energy,” said Becky Stanfield, senior director of western states at Vote Solar. “Power Up Michigan empowers energy customers to say ‘no’ to DTE Energy’s billion-dollar proposal and instead call for a responsible path to reliable energy that is cheaper, safer and healthier for our communities.”

"Increasing Michigan’s reliance on natural gas for energy generation will mean another generation exposed to air, water, and soil pollution, having a direct impact on public health. Every step of the natural gas life cycle – from extraction and storage to transporting and burning – result in negative health impacts due to associated emissions of toxic pollutants, including methane, volatile organic compounds, and ozone," said Mara Herman, MPH, health outreach coordinator from the Ecology Center.

“DTE is overlooking flexible, reliable, renewable resources that can deliver affordable energy to their customers. DTE failed to seriously look at solar and wind power, battery storage, energy efficiency, and demand response, which would give DTE the flexibility it needs to integrate clean, cost-effective renewables that are good for Michigan’s economy and environment,” said Margrethe Kearney, senior staff attorney with the Environmental Law & Policy Center.

"DTE is missing the opportunity to be a leader, and instead saddling their ratepayers for decades with a bad investment that will only get worse as time goes by," said Nathan Murphy, state director with Environment Michigan.

"With Michigan families paying some of the highest rates for energy, it is clear that DTE’s proposal to build a new $1 billion natural gas plant isn’t the right choice for Michigan residents and our pocketbooks. The state and DTE should invest in options like renewable energy and energy efficiency that lower residents’ electric bills,” said Charlotte Jameson, energy policy and legislative affairs director from Michigan Environmental Council.

“The markets have moved and Michiganders are ready to push the clean energy future. Now that renewable energy is often cheaper than natural gas, delaying our transition to wind, solar and efficiency is bad public policy and costs consumers,” said Nick Occhipinti, government affairs director with the Michigan League of Conservation Voters.

“With record amounts of coal plants retiring, we have a unique opportunity to make efficiency and renewables the foundation of our state’s energy future," said Ariana Gonzalez, energy policy analyst with NRDC.

“It is time for DTE to focus on renewable energy and not fossil fuels.  This coalition’s goal is to empower customers to say ‘no’ to a billion dollar gas plant, and ‘yes’ to Renewables. It simply does not make sense to tie customers’ to a long term investment into a gas plant, when renewable energy continues to become a better and cheaper alternative. So, let’s say no to the past and yes to Michigan’s bright energy future,” said Regina Strong, Michigan director for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign.

"DTE seeks approval to charge its customers almost a billion dollars for a new natural gas plant. But when independent experts reviewed DTE’s analysis, they found errors, inappropriate assumptions, and biases that raise serious doubts about whether DTE’s proposed plant is in the best interest of its customers. The Michigan Public Service Commission should protect ratepayers by rejecting this half-baked proposal," added Sam Gomberg, senior energy analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Find the Power Up Michigan campaign online.

And join the conversation on social media with the hashtag: #PowerUpMI

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About Vote Solar

Since 2002, Vote Solar has been working to lower solar costs and expand solar access. A 501(c)3 non-profit organization, Vote Solar advocates for state policies and programs needed to repower our electric grid with clean energy. Learn more at www.votesolar.org

 

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