Michigan Utility Charts Transformative Course to Cut Carbon

The energy industry trend of slashing carbon continues with the DTE Energy announcement to reduce its carbon emissions by more than 80 percent by 2050. Frankly, trend is too temporary a word to describe what is really going on across the country and globe. DTE’s CEO Gerry Anderson offers a better “T” word in a statement which perfectly captures the significance, he says, “The transformation of the way we produce power is in full swing."

The Plan

Wind Turbine, PaulDocker/Flickr

The path to 80 percent reductions will be incremental, but still aggressive with projected milestones including 30 percent reduction by the early 2020s, 45 percent by 2030, 75 percent by 2040, and more than 80 percent by 2050. To reach these substantial drops, the utility will:

  • Drastically ramp up renewable energy to around 6000 MW which can power over 500,000 Michigan homes
  • Transition its “always running” power source from coal to natural gas
  • Continue to operate its Fermi 2 nuclear power plant
  • Increase options to save energy and reduce bills through energy efficiency programs 

Consumers Energy, the other largest Michigan utility, also came out with clean energy goals in its presentation to the House Energy Policy Committee. Consumers CEO Patti Poppe stated, "Consumers is determined to meet a 30 percent renewable standard in the future, roughly the 2025-2030 time frame." The ratio of resources for both utilities is roughly outlined, but a strong case should be made for all cost-effective renewable energy and energy efficiency to be pursued. Doing so would also align nicely with the new energy legislation enacted April 20th which pushes the state to ramp up both renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The Vision

Transforming energy production away from dirty fossil fuels towards renewable energy works towards a vision of a cleaner and more economically dynamic Michigan. A future where our children breathe easier, our wallets feel a little fuller, and our lights stay on more reliably. Michigan isn’t alone in this vision. Virginia, once a major coal producer, recently had a big announcement of its own. Governor McAuliffe revealed his plan to limit and reduce dangerous carbon pollution from power plants in Virginia by directing the use of allowance trading. The message is loud and clear from Michigan to Virginia: Clean energy, not more coal, is better for health and the grid.

The Work Ahead

DTE’s plan to cut carbon emissions sends a strong signal, but is not yet a reality. We have to make it one. Luckily, coupled with the new legislation, DTE’s plan provides a real opportunity to craft the details and push the envelope so that everyone can feel the benefits of clean energy.

About the Authors

Ariana Gonzalez

Senior Energy Policy Analyst, Climate & Clean Energy Program
Blog Post

McAuliffe’s repudiation of Trump’s dangerous, climate-denying embrace of the outdated fossil fuel industry will be good for Virginia. Here's why.

Join Us

When you sign up you'll become a member of NRDC's Activist Network. We will keep you informed with the latest alerts and progress reports.