On July 12, Michigan utility DTE Energy agreed to a landmark settlement in its Integrated Resource Planning (IRP). Signatories to the agreement include Vote Solar, the Coalition of Concerned Scientists, and the Center for Ecology, all represented by the Center for Environmental Law and Policy, collectively known as the Clean Energy Organization. If the deal is approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), it will close the polluting Monroe coal-fired power plant years earlier than currently planned and regenerate nearly 3.8GW of power to the grid by 2030. It will add renewable energy and drive the acceleration of equitable clean energy solutions. DTE has 2.3 million customers.
“Today’s agreement is a step toward Michigan’s clean energy transition and a light that shows what is possible when policy know-how, regulatory expertise and community voices come together,” said Vought. *Will Kenworthy, Senior Director of Midwest Regulatory at Solar, said. “The progress shown in reconciliation would not have been possible without a strong coalition that recognized the need to value equity and put people first. We expect the Michigan Legislature to push forward with the kind of bold clean energy plans that Michigans are demonstrating are ready.”
One of the provisions is to increase the cap on distributed generation from 1% to 6% in DTE service areas. In Michigan, the statewide 1% cap on distributed energy sources such as rooftop solar remains one of the tightest in the nation. This has long been criticized by activists, the solar industry and lawmakers across the political spectrum. Last year, clean energy groups successfully negotiated a 2% increase in distributed generation with Consumers Energy, another major Michigan utility.a Specification Removing the cap on distributed generation is one of several clean energy bills that supporters are urging lawmakers to pass when they return to Lansing in the fall.
The deal also includes a 2032 deadline for closing the Monroe coal-fired power plant, the country’s third-largest greenhouse gas emitter. This 2032 closure comes seven years ahead of DTE’s current plans and three years ahead of what was originally proposed in the IRP. DTE also agreed in his next IRP that he would consider a 2030 retirement date, a clause he argued required the Clean Energy Agency. According to expert analysis, the settlement would result in total medical costs that would be caused by coal burning at the facility by 2035 based on DTE’s original proposal of $432 million to $972 million and $39 to $39 million. It is estimated that 87 premature deaths could be averted. Additionally, by discontinuing coal-burning at DTE’s Bell River plant in 2025-2026, rather than the currently scheduled 2028, the plant will reduce an estimated 71 to 159 jobs per year due to the plant not burning coal. can prevent premature death in
“A rapid transition away from coal and a greater commitment to renewable energy is absolutely necessary to transition to a healthy, clean energy future,” said Alexis Brizman, policy director at the Center for Ecology. “The accelerated retirement of coal and its replacement by clean renewable energy will have far-reaching effects on air quality and public health. There is no doubt that this will save lives.”
As an additional condition of the settlement, DTE Energy agrees to allocate $38 million to organizations and programs designed to provide bill payment assistance and energy upgrades to income-eligible households. DTE’s customers are already facing high utility bills, with low-wealth households paying a disproportionate share of household income.
Of that $38 million, $8 million will help implement housing readiness, energy efficiency, distributed generation and energy storage programs for low-income communities.
“DTE’s $8 million donation to fund renewable energy investments in low-income communities is frankly inspiring,” said Daniel Abrams, an associate attorney at the Center for Environmental Law and Policy. “This will help address his client’s two critical concerns: First, low-income Michigan households will be provided with a sustainable and lasting means of reducing their utility bills. Second, the clean energy revolution leaves no one behind.”
DTE Energy’s proposed IRP was submitted in November 2022. Since then, hundreds of Michigan residents have voiced their opinions on the plan through written comments and testimony at public hearings. In March, clean energy groups submitted expert testimony, in which they said: another to an IRP.
“We have proven that DTE’s proposed plan is not inevitable and that there is a cleaner, more resilient, and more equitable way forward,” Union of Scientists Concerned Midwest Senior Policy manager James Gignac said. “We are pleased with the proposed settlement of this lawsuit, but much more remains to be done. The Michigan Legislature will build on DTE’s progress to expand energy efficiency and renewable energy statewide. “We must take swift and meaningful action to achieve the just, fossil-free Michigan that we know is possible.”
News article from Vote Solar