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DTE, the state, and environmental groups reach a settlement and long-term energy plan

Photo looking up at the gray-metal facade of DTE Energy, with logo of a figure in profile with flowing hair against a pointy sunburst. There is a dark-gray skyscraper behind the DTE building, and beyond that, blue, cloudless sky.
Paul Sancya/AP
DTE Energy is shown in Detroit, Thursday, May 18, 2017.

The integrated resource plan, or IRP, requires DTE Electric to reduce its reliance on coal, speed up renewable energy projects, and disclose large political donations.

(MPRN) The Michigan Public Service Commission approved a long-term energy plan for one of the state’s largest utilities Wednesday.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Commissioner Katherine Peretick noted the plan stretches 20 years out.

“It’s hard to look that far into the future and I think it’s important to have all these varied voices representing so many interests and populations throughout the state represented in this settlement agreement that determines the future of our energy sources,” Peretick said.

DTE Energy Vice Chairman and Group President Trevor Lauer said he’s proud of the steps toward carbon neutrality his company is taking as a part of the plan.

“This maintains reliability of the electric grid while we introduce almost 4,000 megawatts of new renewables. So, lots of renewables get built out, lots of great things on reliability for our customers,” Lauer said. He highlighted reliability, affordability, and sustainability as three pillars for the utility throughout negotiations.

Lauer said there were multiple compromises to reach a deal. “Whether it was the amount of renewables we were building to the types of distributive generation that goes on our distribution grid, to the financial mechanisms that we use in accounting for regulatory assets,” he said.

But advocates, like Jackson Koeppel with the group Soulardarity, said the deal doesn’t do enough for affordability or reliability.

“While the deal guarantees reliable power production, it does not address the deficiencies of DTE’s distribution grid," Koeppel told reporters after the MPSC meeting.

He mentioned that communities should start seeing better health outcomes from fewer fossil fuels being burned, however.

Environmental groups are highlighting the commitments DTE made to renewable energy production and programming for low-income customers. But advocates say they’d like to see the Legislature step in to move the needle further.

Darrell Slaughter is with the Natural Resources Defense Council. He said these steps should be just a beginning.

“This was a settlement agreement,” Slaughter said. “Many of these wins may not have happened outside of working out the process through a settlement.”

DTE’s next IRP update is due in 2026.