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DTE: Our future is sun, wind, natural gas and nuclear

Posted May 16

— DTE Energy will reduce planet-warming carbon emissions by more than 80 percent by 2050 as it produces electricity from sun, wind, natural gas and nuclear power, the utility's chief executive said Tuesday.

Gerry Anderson said climate change is the "defining policy issue of our era" and DTE has a "responsibility to address it."

"There is no sucker's choice between a healthy environment and a healthy economy, although it often gets framed that way," Anderson said. "We can have both as long as we do it in a smart way."

By 2040, natural gas and renewable energy each will supply 40 percent of DTE's electricity, with the rest coming from the Fermi nuclear plant. Anderson said the transition will cost $15 billion, which would come from customers through higher rates if DTE gets approval from regulators at the Michigan Public Service Commission.

DTE, which provides electricity to millions of people in southeastern Michigan and the Thumb region, had already announced a plan to gradually shut down its decades-old coal-fired plants. The last will be the Monroe station by 2040.

President Donald Trump has talked about reviving demand for U.S. coal. Anderson said he has a "lot of sympathy" for coal-producing regions, but he must look at the long term.

"A new administration can't turn a 70-year-old coal plant into a 20-year-old plant. ... We've got some very old assets that we need to move on to replace," Anderson told reporters. "The choice to replace is natural gas, not more coal."

He said gas reserves are vast, and the technology to tap them continues to become more efficient.

"It's a fuel we have abundantly, it's domestic and it's low carbon," Anderson said.

Environmental groups praised DTE, especially its commitment to solar and wind energy.

"New investments in homegrown renewable power will also create jobs for installers, technicians and manufacturers up and down Michigan's substantial clean energy supply chain," said Chris Kolb, president of the Michigan Environmental Council, a coalition of environmental groups.

Michigan's other major utility, Consumers Energy, doesn't have a firm plan yet on its future power sources. But they will include more renewable energy and natural gas, spokeswoman Katie Carey said.

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Follow Ed White at http://twitter.com/edwhiteap

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