Environmental advocates cheer energy efficiency improvements amid DTE settlement ⋆

DTE Energy, one of Michigan’s largest electrical providers, reached a settlement on Monday with a number of environmental organizations regarding the company’s energy waste reduction plans for 2024 and 2025. 

The settlement between DTE, the Sierra Club, Ecology Center, Earthjustice, the Natural Resources Defense Council, National Housing Trust and other parties was filed with the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) on Tuesday, and is awaiting final approval. 

Members of the Michigan Public Service Commission during a meeting on July 26, 2023. | Kyle Davidson

The MPSC, which regulates energy and telecommunications companies in Michigan, is set to meet on Nov. 9. Under state law energy providers must file their plans for improving energy efficiency and reduce wasted electricity in their service area. Under its current operations plan DTE is required to deliver 2% energy savings annually, particularly in low-income communities. 

Earlier this month, the commission released its annual report on energy waste reduction programs and found energy customers saved $3 for every $1 invested into energy efficiency programs. 

As part of the settlement, DTE must extend and improve its neighborhood targeting initiative which will target high-need areas to increase energy efficiency services for income-qualified households. The settlement also doubles the budget for the initiative to $2 million, requires DTE to help partner organizations or governmental bodies leverage new sources of funding and requires better outreach and education.

DTE must also work toward a performance incentive that provides the company with financial rewards for installing measures that reduce energy bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, like electric heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, and weatherization measures, rather than gas furnaces or gas water heaters.

It would also encourage the state to create an implementation plan for the home weatherization and electrification rebate programs under the federal Inflation Reduction Act, to provide a central avenue for customers to stack federal, state and utility funding for home upgrades. 

The settlement requires DTE to implement a range of tracking and reporting metrics to help advocates understand the equity and efficacy of DTE’s investments across its waste reduction program, including by census tract.

DTE must also improve its income-qualified multifamily energy waste  program design, including commitments to further collaboration with Michigan State Housing Development Authority and MI Saves, improving rebate payment options, and continuing detailed reporting to ensure robust implementation of the program. 

DTE must work to ensure coordination and cross-information between the Michigan 2-1-1 helpline and its income-qualified energy waste reduction programs.

“DTE customers deserve to live in safe, healthy, and energy efficient homes,” Chinyere Osuala, senior attorney in the clean energy program at Earthjustice said in a statement. “This settlement requires DTE to work closer with underserved communities to address energy efficiency and energy affordability needs.”



authored by Kyle Davidson
First published at https%3A%2F%2Fmichiganadvance.com%2F2023%2F11%2F01%2Fenvironmental-advocates-cheer-energy-efficiency-improvements-amid-dte-settlement%2F

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