MPSC approves settlement describing DTE’s operations for next 20 years ⋆
The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) approved a settlement between DTE Energy and 21 environmental, clean energy, and consumer advocacy organizations during its meeting Wednesday morning.
DTE and the negotiating organizations agreed on a settlement agreement two weeks ago that outlines the electric company’s plans for operation over the next 20 years. The commission approved the settlement with support from two of the three commissioners. The newest commissioner, Alessandra Carreon, abstained from all votes citing a lack of sufficient familiarity with the matters considered, given her recent appointment to the commission.
Michigan Public Service Commission Chair Dan Scripps | Kyle Davidson
MPSC Chair Dan Scripps and Commissioner Katherine Peretick praised DTE and the 21 groups of stakeholders for coming to an uncontested settlement.
“DTE electric provides electricity to 2.3 million customers in Michigan and this settlement agreement determines the long range forecast for ensuring that we have enough, and the right resources over the next 20 years,” Peretick said.
“It’s hard to look that far into the future and I think it’s important to have all of these various voices representing so many interests of populations throughout the state represented,” she said.
DTE issued a statement after the vote, thanking the commission for approving the settlement.
“We want to thank the Michigan Public Service Commission for approving our CleanVision Plan. This has been a collaborative process, with input from key stakeholders, to ensure we have the best plan possible for our 2.3 million customers and the state of Michigan,” said Jerry Norcia, DTE, chairman and CEO.
As part of the agreement, DTE will retire its coal-fired power plants in 2032 instead of 2035. This deal includes DTE’s Monroe coal plant, which environmental advocates have called the third largest polluter in the nation.
DTE will also retire its natural gas peaking plant in River Rouge, which is used to provide additional power to the grid when demand for electricity is high. The company must also study the impact and potential retirement of three additional gas-fired peaking plants in environmental justice communities for its next Integrated Resource Plan, which DTE must file by December 2026.
DTE reaches settlement on energy plan, agrees to retire coal plants early
In addition to phasing out coal and some natural gas plants, DTE also agreed to expand its renewable energy efforts, and raise its cap on distributed generation. While the company is only legally required to purchase 1% of its average yearly peak load from customers generating their own energy, DTE will raise that cap to 6% as part of the settlement.
The company will also donate $30 million toward energy relief alongside another $8 million to support community-led energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for low-income customers.
While advocates described the coal and gas plant closures, expansion of renewable efforts and investment into as high points of the deal, they said aspects like reliability and energy costs were left out of the settlement.
“We are signatories to this agreement, and ultimately saw this deal as an advancement that creates a greater possibility for a just energy future,” said Jackson Koeppel, who served as an expert witness for Soulardarity and We Want Green Too in the settlement case.
“We are clear-eyed about the limitations and drawbacks of the settlement agreement,” Koeppel said.
Although DTE will be shutting down its River Rouge plant, Koeppel noted the company received approval to build a short-term natural gas peaking plant at one of its closing coal plant sites.
While natural gas is considered cleaner than coal or petroleum, burning natural gas can contribute to air pollution, producing nitrogen oxides which can lead to smog.
Jackson Koeppel, expert witness for Soulardarity and We Want Green Too in the DTE settlement. (Courtesy of DTE Can Do Better)
Advocates also called on the MPSC and members of the legislature to ensure a just transition to clean energy, by setting affordability, equity and climate standards, addressing issues with power reliability, and offering appropriate compensation to people impacted by power outages.
“It is essential that the Michigan Public Service Commission and Legislature keep doing the work to ensure a just energy future for everyone,” Koeppel said.
They also noted that the upcoming years would be vital for DTE to prove its commitment to clean energy, and would continue to monitor its efforts leading up to the introduction of a new energy plan in 2026.
“We are going to be watching that transition and trying to hold the team accountable to use more clean energy,” said Andrew Sarpolis, Michigan field manager for the Sierra Club.
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authored by Kyle Davidson
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