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DTE plan for billion dollar natural gas plant runs into opposition

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

A coalition of groups is calling on state regulators to reject DTE’s plans to build a billion dollar natural gas plant.

The utility wants to replace three retiring coal-fired power plants with the new natural gas plant in St. Clair County.  The three aging coal plants represent roughly 20% of DTE’s power capacity. The plants are scheduled to shut down over the next five years.  

“DTE conducted extensive modeling – running more than 50 scenarios – to figure out how to best meet the 24/7 needs of our customers,” says spokeswoman Carly Getz. “The rigorous analysis conclusively showed a natural gas power plant is the best option for a 24/7 energy source.”

Credit steve carmody / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
"It will set back the effort to transition to a truly clean energy economy," says Becky Stanfield (left) with the group Vote Solar.

But opponents argue DTE didn’t fully consider clean energy options.   

The plan is opposed by the PowerUP Michigan coalition, which is composed of environmental groups, renewable energy businesses and others.

Becky Stanfield is with the group Vote Solar. She says building a gas plant that will operate for decades is bad for consumers.

“It will set back the effort to transition to a truly clean energy economy,” Stanfield said at a news conference Thursday, just before the coalition delivered 10,000 petition signatures calling for DTE and the Michigan Public Service Commission to scrap the natural gas plant plan. 

April 27 is the statutory deadline for the Michigan Public Service Commission to hand down a decision.

The law says the MPSC must decide on certificates of need within 270 days of a utility’s filing.

That means, an announcement could come any time.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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