Environment

Self-Direct Program Details for Business Customers.

Energy conservation legislation enacted by the Michigan legislature allows DTE Electric customers to self-direct and implement their own energy optimization plan.

Environmental Stewardship

The electric power industry across the United States is undergoing a major transformation as the country seeks lower-carbon energy sources to meet growing demand. At DTE Energy, we recognize our role in this industry-wide transformation and our responsibility to conserve the finite natural resources that are available to us. We are committed to environmental stewardship and protecting the land, water and air.

Transformation of Electric Generation

Our power is generated or purchased from a variety of sources including nuclear, coal, natural gas, oil and renewables. The overall mix of generation assets – especially the proportion of coal-fired capacity – has already begun to change and will continue to evolve. (Read more on this topic in our section on Michigan Energy Policy.) The transition in our generation portfolio over the next 15 years is expected to cost in the range of $7 billion to $8 billion – a dramatic transformation that we are preparing for, and will manage, while being mindful of our customers’ needs for affordability and reliability.

Click to download our Energy Transformation story >

In response to environmental regulation and the aging of our coal fleet, we anticipate that our generation mix in the long term will shift from a generation portfolio heavily weighted toward coal to a more balanced mix of coal, natural gas, renewables and nuclear. With the anticipated retirements of coal-fired power plants across Michigan (as well as the entire Midwest region and the U.S. as a whole), we are actively working to replace that capacity with other assets and maintain adequate reserves.

We have added new renewable energy resources to our system (read more in the next section of this report). To address immediate capacity needs, in 2015 we purchased two natural gas-fired simple cycle plants that, combined, can provide more than 1,000 MW of power during peak demand periods. Our major investments in natural gas transmission and storage infrastructure, including the NEXUS pipeline, also support the overall energy industry transformation.

Nuclear power generation provides a significant amount of essentially carbon-free, base-load electricity, which is crucial for helping the state of Michigan and the entire United States meet the challenges of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). In fact, 87 percent of Michigan’s carbon-free electricity output is generated by the state’s three nuclear energy facilities. We have filed an application with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) requesting a renewal of the Fermi 2 nuclear power plant operating license through 2045 (the current license expires in 2025). In addition, in April 2015, we received NRC approval for a license to construct and operate a new nuclear energy facility on the site of the existing Fermi 2 plant, capping a six-year process that examined the technical, safety and environmental aspects of the potential new generation facility. The company has not committed to building the new plant, but will keep the option open for long-term planning purposes. With this NRC approval, DTE Energy now possesses a diverse, comprehensive slate of options to plan for Michigan’s energy future.

 

Renewable Energy

Electricity from renewable resources – wind, sunlight and biomass – plays an important role in meeting our customers’ energy needs while reducing our environmental impact. DTE is the largest investor in renewable energy in the state. We have invested approximately $1 billion in renewable energy since 2008 and we have spurred an additional $1 billion in third-party renewable energy investment since 2009.

We generated or contracted for about 3.6 million MWh of electricity from renewable energy sources in 2015, enough to power about 450,000 households.

In compliance with state-mandated targets, by the end of 2015, DTE Energy met the 10 percent renewable energy standard based on retail sales. This was accomplished by retiring 4.24 million certified Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) and other eligible credits that equated to 10 percent of our total 2014 sales of 42.4 million MWh. Each REC represents one MWh of renewable energy generated by DTE or purchased from third-party renewable sources.

DTE has generally enjoyed strong support for wind energy in communities in Southeast and Central Michigan. However, in 2015, several communities in Michigan's Thumb have made decisions that created challenges for wind energy projects. Referendum outcomes in two townships have slowed project plans for DTE and another wind developer. Further, an initiative by Huron County leaders has culminated in 2015 in revised wind energy zoning to restrict wind turbine siting. In spite of these challenges, DTE continues to view wind energy as a valuable component of our generation portfolio. We are working with multiple communities and their residents who understand the valuable contribution wind energy is making to the economy locally, and the environment globally.

Leading in Solar Power in Michigan

DTE has announced plans to break ground in 2016 on two new solar projects in Lapeer, Michigan, in collaboration with the City of Lapeer. With a combined generating capacity of 48 MW, the projects will generate enough electricity to power 9,000 average-sized homes with clean, zero-emission solar energy. Development of the two Lapeer solar projects further solidifies DTE’s position as the largest investor in solar power in the state of Michigan, and demonstrates our commitment to a clean, diversified energy portfolio. DTE is also developing a Detroit solar park that will be one of the largest urban solar power arrays in the country. To learn more, visit the Community section of this website.

 

Energy Efficiency

Customers

We provide incentives, information and techniques to help residential and business customers use energy more efficiently. This helps our customers reduce their costs, strengthening the economy of Michigan. Energy efficiency also provides environmental benefits by conserving resources and avoiding air emissions.

DTE’s energy efficiency programs help reduce customers’ energy use by increasing awareness of energy saving possibilities and providing products and services such as rebates, tips, comparison tools, strategies and energy efficiency education to help customers make informed energy saving decisions. Programs are designed to capture both electric and natural gas savings for all customer classes. For those DTE customers with only electric or only natural gas service, we make efforts to coordinate with other utility companies so that these customers can easily take advantage of energy efficiency program offerings to reduce both electricity and gas usage.

Michigan enacted legislation in 2008 that set energy optimization targets for utility companies, and provided a funding mechanism to pay for program costs. As the chart below demonstrates, we have exceeded the legislated targets. During 2015, DTE Electric customers saved 621 gigawatt-hours, and DTE Gas customers saved 1,480 million cubic feet, through measures such as installing more efficient appliances and lights, adding insulation, weatherizing homes and conducting boiler tune-ups. The efficiency programs are managed by DTE Energy and serviced by expert contractors. Our Annual Energy Optimization report provides a great deal more detail about the specific programs in place.

Efficiency at DTE Energy Facilities

Navitas House, a state-of-the-art facility for our headquarters IT workforce, is newly renovated to incorporate (among many sustainable features) bioswales and rain gardens for storm water management, responsive LED lighting and additional efficiency measures:

  • > Energy efficient heat pumps
  • > Heat recovery systems
  • > Solar panels mounted on the building to generate renewable energy

We purchased Navitas House, an abandoned historic structure adjacent to our headquarters campus, in 2012 as part of our investment in revitalizing the downtown Detroit neighborhood. The renovated facility was dedicated in 2015, and received certification through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program of the U.S. Green Building Council. This is DTE’s first LEED-certified building.

Across the organization, we are re-designing our workspaces to be more energy efficient, particularly our lighting systems, which are significant users of electricity. In 2015, we upgraded lighting at our headquarters and Allen Road warehouse with LED fixtures. We also installed energy meters throughout our headquarter buildings to monitor electricity, water, steam and natural gas usage. Company-wide, these facility improvements will save an estimated 932,000 kWh annually, representing about 538 tons of greenhouse gases avoided.

 

Climate Change

In anticipation of meeting new federal regulations for carbon dioxide emissions, DTE Electric has established a goal to:

Reduce carbon dioxide emissions from electric generation by 20 percent below 2010 levels by 2020, and

Reduce carbon dioxide emissions from electric generation by 40 percent below 2010 levels by 2030.

Our 2015 total emissions of carbon dioxide from electric generation were 17 percent below 2010, indicating we are well on our way to achieving the 2020 goal.

To address emissions of greenhouse gases, DTE Energy supports the development of a responsible regulatory approach that is transparent, flexible and equitable. We believe the approach should be structured in a way that achieves meaningful emission reductions, avoids excessive costs for customers and prevents significant negative impacts on the economy. The approach should also be structured in a way that allows for new technologies to develop and mature before the greatest reductions are required.

DTE actively participated with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Michigan’s Agency for Energy, Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality, the Edison Electric Institute and other business and community stakeholder groups to shape final carbon performance standards, including the Clean Power Plan issued by EPA in 2015. Despite the Supreme Court’s stay of the Clean Power Plan in early 2016, DTE Energy will continue to retire aging coal plants and replace these with cleaner natural gas and renewable energy over the next decade.

Our aim is to encourage energy policies that result in the best possible outcome for the environment, our customers, shareholders and the communities we serve. Through a deliberate and paced approach, we can reduce emissions while minimizing the financial impact on our customers. As regional market-based solutions further evolve, and the costs of renewable energy resources continue to drop, the overall cost of cleaner generation is expected to decline.

We believe regulations can be established that achieve national environmental and economic goals, and coordinate with energy policy development in Michigan. Our goals align with the Michigan Governor’s focus on adaptable energy and environmental policy for the State of Michigan. Fundamental to the Governor’s focus on energy policy is that every decision is based on excellent reliability, an affordable price and a protected environment. DTE’s approach to managing our generation fleet will continue to be coordinated with these federal and state policies.

DTE Energy is already taking aggressive steps to reduce and offset greenhouse gas:

> We participate in research on new technologies to make carbon capture and geologic carbon storage practical for both new and existing fossil-fuel power plants.

> We participated in carbon trading markets to help establish and understand the complexities of market driven programs.

> We are developing wind and other renewable resources in Michigan.

> We are helping our customers reduce energy usage and lower their bills by becoming more energy efficient.

> We are national leaders in developing landfill gas capture systems and in converting small coal-fired power plants to run on biomass fuels.

> We received a license to operate and build a new nuclear energy facility at our existing Fermi 2 plant and we are pursuing an operating license renewal for our Fermi 2 nuclear power plant, which will extend operation from 2025 to 2045. We have not committed to building a new nuclear power plant, but nuclear power is the only proven technology for carbon-free baseload power generation.

> As a founding partner in EPA's Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge program, DTE has committed to use best management practices to reduce methane emissions from our gas operations over the next five years.

Alternative Fuel Vehicles Reduce Fleet Emissions

Out of our company-wide fleet of vehicles at locations across Michigan, about 325 are fueled by compressed natural gas (CNG), or are electric or hybrid vehicles. This represents nearly 11 percent of DTE Energy vehicles. Our alternative fuel vehicles create less greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollution compared to conventional service trucks and cars. Additionally, in 2015, public usage of CNG from our 10 public fueling stations rose to over one million gallons of gasoline equivalent, with a resulting reduction of over six million pounds of CO2.

 

Air Quality

We have been a leader in adopting new technologies and practices to reduce emissions since the 1920s, when our Trenton Channel Power Plant was among the first to install electrostatic precipitators to remove fly ash from the exhaust stacks.

DTE Electric has reduced emissions of particulate matter (PM), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) by more than 80 percent since the mid-1970s, while during this same period, total annual generation increased 20 percent.

More recently, since 2005 we have reduced emissions 76 percent for PM, 67 percent for SO2, 61 percent for NOx, and 42 percent for mercury. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have also declined over this time period (16 percent reduction) as our overall net fossil generation has declined.

We continue to invest in emission reductions to meet increasingly stringent air quality requirements. DTE capital expenditures on air emissions controls and other environmental projects through 2015 totaled more than $2 billion to install state-of-the-art emission controls at the Monroe Power Plant, our largest generating plant and the fourth largest coal-fired plant in the country.

The emission controls consist of flue gas desulfurization (FGD) and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) units to control emissions of SO2, NOx, mercury and other hazardous pollutants. These controls allow the plant to meet stringent federal regulations including EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). Our remaining coal-fired power plants will reduce mercury emissions with a combination of dry sorbent injection and activated carbon injection emission control systems. DTE Electric will spend approximately $40 million in capital investments in 2016 to meet the April 2016 compliance deadline for the MATS rule. Over the entire system, we expect mercury emissions to be reduced by approximately 90 percent once all the controls are in place.

Commercially available controls for reduction of CO2 emissions have not been demonstrated at the utility scale, so additional reductions of CO2 must be achieved through reduced fossil generation, improved plant efficiency, switching to less carbon-intensive fuels, and other technological alternatives that reduce the CO2 emissions for every megawatt-hour (MWh) of generation.

 

 

 

 

 

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Water

We use water from lakes and rivers (surface water) to cool our thermal electric power plants. Our power plants withdraw and return water to Michigan’s surface waters under the authority of permits issued by the State of Michigan.

In 2015, DTE Energy withdrew approximately 1.2 trillion gallons of cooling water from surface water bodies, or 476 gallons per megawatt-hour generated. Water consumption (water not returned directly to the water system and largely lost through evaporation) is calculated to be 1.7 percent of withdrawal.

The majority of our power plants utilize once-through cooling, so most of the water that is withdrawn is then returned to the same water body with a slightly elevated temperature. These thermal discharges have not been found to adversely affect aquatic ecosystems.

At our Greenwood Energy Center, the plant recycles water within the system, avoiding the need for additional withdrawals. The amount of water recycled in 2015 was approximately 7.1 billion gallons.

One of our generating facilities is located in an area where water resources are constrained – the 44 MW Mt. Poso biomass plant near Bakersfield, California, representing less than 0.01 percent of our total generating capacity. Located in the arid Central Valley region of California near Bakersfield, the Mt. Poso facility reuses water that is recovered from the oil production activities of an adjacent oil field instead of directly withdrawing surface water. Surplus water is provided to local ranchers for their cattle operations.

Recent EPA Clean Water Act Regulations

EPA finalized regulations in 2015 that set limits on the levels of toxic metals in power plant wastewater discharges. To meet compliance deadlines starting in December 2018, DTE is evaluating alternatives and will likely implement new wastewater treatment measures, as well as changes to ash handling and storage, at several power plants.

DTE is also evaluating alternatives for reducing the environmental impacts of intake structures at several facilities in response to cooling water withdrawal regulations issued by EPA in May 2014. We are coordinating our work with the State of Michigan to determine whether any significant aquatic impacts are associated with our existing intake structures, and whether there are cost-effective alternatives. Under the regulations, impact studies need to be completed over the next several years. State regulators will then make the final determination of what type of technology will be needed to reduce impacts to fish and other aquatic life.

 

Waste and Recycling

DTE Energy’s pollution prevention programs help to minimize impacts and conserve resources by reducing the volume of waste that would otherwise go to landfills for disposal. A summary of all the materials that DTE Energy recycled in Michigan during 2015 is available here.

Coal Combustion Byproducts

Fly ash and bottom ash are byproducts of the coal burned in our power plants. Synthetic gypsum is a byproduct of the FGD units that reduce sulfur dioxide emissions from coal-fired plants. These materials – ash and synthetic gypsum– constitute the great majority of solid waste from DTE operations. In the last eight years, we have installed dry handling equipment to improve the recyclability of our fly ash and recycle rates have steadily increased as a result. DTE Energy operates three licensed landfills for disposal of fly ash that is not recycled, and each coal plant has on-site facilities for storing residual ash. These landfills operate in compliance with applicable state and federal laws and are routinely inspected by state and local regulatory agencies. We assess the condition of our facilities and equipment on a regular basis and conduct maintenance and repairs as necessary to maintain structural integrity and operational performance.

 

 

In response to high-profile incidents around the country involving coal ash spills during 2014, DTE Energy began re-evaluating all of our ash handling facilities. We have no known issues of concern, and this ongoing evaluation will provide us with another layer of confidence.

In April 2015, EPA finalized a rule to regulate coal ash. The rule maintains the status of ash as a non-hazardous waste, and lays out various design and performance standards that companies are expected to incorporate in their ash management practices. DTE Energy is actively evaluating the impact of the new rule and working to ensure all ash basins and landfills meet their respective compliance deadlines. We are also working with the state of Michigan as it evaluates the impact of these new rules on its solid waste management program.

Gypsum is used as a component in drywall manufacturing and as a beneficial additive in agriculture. In 2015, we recycled nearly all of the gypsum produced at DTE Energy power plants (97 percent).

Appliance Recycling

As part of our customer energy efficiency programs, we accept old appliances for recycling when customers purchase new, more efficient models. Since the program launched in 2009, more than 171,000 DTE customers have recycled more than 181,000 refrigerators and freezers, saving them more than $28 million on energy bills. To administer the program, we partner with Solutions for Energy Efficient Logistics to manage the appliance pick-ups, and Goodwill's Green Works helps us safely dismantle and recycle the donated appliances.

 

Natural Resources Management

At DTE Energy, we work to take care of the land, water and living creatures both within our service territories and beyond. DTE is one of the largest landowners in Michigan. We maintain thousands of acres of land in its natural state and provide habitat for hundreds of species of birds, mammals, fish and insects.

Our utility operations implement a comprehensive avian protection plan to minimize the impacts of our electric lines on bird populations. With the increasing number of wind turbines in our generation portfolio, the plan has been appropriately broadened to address bat impacts also. Plan implementation involves establishing procedures for observing birds and bats near electric lines and turbines, for removing nests from transmission poles before birds can become settled, and for documenting and communicating these management measures. We train our field employees to be aware of the requirements under federal wildlife protection rules.

DTE Energy facilities are home to hundreds of species of wildlife. Some are endangered or threatened, and we are helping their populations increase and stabilize, in part through our efforts to provide habitat in an environment that frequently makes little room for wildlife. To this end, DTE Energy has 34 sites certified under the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC), a nonprofit organization that helps companies manage their property for the benefit of wildlife. In 2015, we received five new certifications, ever increasing the amount of habitat that our operations support. Twelve existing sites were also re-certified during the year.

 

At the Monroe Power Plant, two baby eagles were born in May 2015, part of the continuing resurgence of these magnificent birds in the vicinity of Monroe. Two other eaglets were born a short time later on another DTE property – a company utility pole on Humbug Island in the Detroit River. This pole was installed in 2008 by a group of apprentice lineworkers as a combination training exercise and in-kind donation of labor to the Detroit International Wildlife Refuge. Each eaglet was banded, measured and tested before being returned to its nest.

 

Land Management and Remediation

Before natural gas became widely available in the 1940s and ‘50s, “manufactured gas” produced from coal was used for lighting, cooking and heating in homes and businesses. As natural gas – which is extracted from underground geological formations – replaced manufactured gas, manufactured gas plants (MGPs) were shut down. Years later, industry and state and federal environmental agencies began studying these sites and recognized that plant operations and the way in which MGPs were abandoned had resulted in residual contamination at the sites. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 3,000 to 5,000 former MGP sites are located in towns and cities across the country.

As DTE Gas, founded in 1849, grew into the statewide utility it is today, it acquired numerous local gas companies that had operated MGPs. Today, DTE Gas is responsible for a total of 16 MGPs throughout the state. A preliminary response and investigation has been completed at each site and work has been completed at several sites. In addition to these DTE Gas properties, DTE Electric is responsible for three MGPs and our subsidiary Citizens Gas is responsible for one site.

Full remediation and closure has been achieved at seven sites, allowing the properties to be developed for a variety of uses. Three other MGPs have undergone partial site closure.

During 2015, closure was completed at the following sites:

> DTE Gas former MGP site in Mount Pleasant, Michigan; property currently operates as the Mount Pleasant Service Center.

> Citizens Gas former MGP in Adrian, Michigan (partial closure); the site is separated into two parcels by the River Raisin. mediation has been completed on the Race Street parcel of the former MGP. The property currently operates as the Citizens Gas Fuel Service Center.

> Former Coolidge and Lynch MGP Holder sites; both of these properties now host service centers for gas operations.

 

 

Compliance

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and an environmental activist group have brought litigation against DTE Electric for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act. DTE Energy has maintained throughout these legal proceedings that we have operated our plants in compliance with all applicable state and federal laws and regulations. To date, the courts have agreed with our position.

In 2015, DTE Electric and Gas facilities received a total of five notices of violation (NOVs). None of these have resulted in any fines or penalties.In 2015, 28 NOVs were received by facilities in DTE's Power and Industrial Projects business unit. Six of these NOVs resulted in fines totaling just over $400,000. The remaining NOVs have not resulted in any fines or penalties and some were resolved with no violations identified. After receiving these NOVs, we conducted thorough reviews of the findings for actionable tasks, identified root causes and implemented improvement tools to prevent recurrence of the violations.

 

Environmental Management Systems

Michigan’s Clean Corporate Citizen (C3) program is designed to honor and recognize businesses that have demonstrated strong environmental stewardship throughout their operations. To be designated a C3, facilities must have a comprehensive and facility-specific environmental management system that sets targets and objectives for continual environmental improvement; pollution prevention programs focusing on reduce, reuse, recycle; and a history of compliance with environmental regulations.

The C3 program is built on the concept that these Michigan facilities can be relied upon to carry out their environmental protection responsibilities without rigorous oversight. Clean Corporate Citizens who voluntarily participate in this program will receive public recognition and are entitled to certain regulatory benefits, including expedited permits. Seven DTE Electric power plants and 26 DTE Gas facilities have earned C3 recognition.

DTE Facilities Designated as Clean Corporate Citizens

DTE Electric Power Plants:

  • Belle River Power Plant
  • Fermi 2
  • Greenwood Energy Center
  • Harbor Beach Power Plant
  • Monroe Power Plant
  • River Rouge Power Plant
  • St. Clair Power Plant

DTE Gas Facilities:

  • Allen Road Service Center
  • Alpena Service Center
  • Belle River Compression Station
  • Big Rapids Service Center
  • Cadillac Service Center
  • Citizens Gas and Fuel
  • Columbus Station
  • Coolidge Service Center
  • Escanaba Service Center
  • Gaylord T&SO Office
  • Grayling Station
  • Kalkaska Station
  • Kingsford Service Center
  • Ludington Service Center
  • Lynch Road Service Center
  • Michigan Avenue Service Center
  • Milford Station
  • Mt. Pleasant Service Center
  • Muskegon Service Center
  • Petoskey Service Center
  • River Rouge Service Center
  • Sault Ste. Marie Service Center
  • Taggart compressor Station
  • Washington 10 Station
  • Wealthy Street Station
  • Willow Run Compressor Station

Our internal environmental audit programs help keep us accountable and drive improvement. Our ISO certified facilities undergo annual environmental management system conformance audits. DTE Gas and DTE Electric facilities also undergo periodic environmental compliance audits, and we perform periodic environmental risk audits for all waste vendors that we utilize. The results of these audits are taken seriously and reported through the appropriate organization management. We track corrective actions and use problem solving tools to identify and address root causes.

Educated and engaged employees play an important role in managing our environmental aspects. Annual, web-based training encourages DTE Electric and DTE Gas employees to understand the relationship between their work and the environment. This mandatory environmental training module covers topics such as handling waste, reducing vehicle idling, managing stormwater and protecting wildlife habitat.

 

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