Michigan Regulators Approve DTE’s Revised Integrated Resource Plan

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The long road for the immediate future of Michigan’s largest utility is over, for now. On April 15, the Michigan Public Service Commission approved a revised version of DTE Energy’s integrated resource plan (IRP), the utility’s plan for the mix of coal, natural gas, solar, wind, energy efficiency and other resources it will use to produce energy for its customers over the next 5, 10 and 15 years.

CUB has followed the progress of the IRP since the first public meeting last year, and joined with many other groups to declare that DTE’s proposal was largely a failure. While they do not address all of the many criticisms levied against the plan, the revisions do make the utility use more energy efficiency and incorporate more realistic cost estimates for renewable energy.

Some other controversial parts of the plan, like when to retire coal-fired power plants, will be determined later after DTE goes back and submits new economic analyses that takes into account costs that opposition groups said should be considered and could show the need for earlier retirement.

Here are some details about the approved integrated resource plan that will be posted to CUB’s page about integrated resource plans:

On April 15, 2020, the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) issued an order approving DTE’s integrated resource plan after the utility made revisions in response to the MPSC’s critiques from February.

Important differences in the approved IRP compared to the original version filed by DTE:

  • Annual energy saving goals increased from 1.65% in 2020 and 1.75% in 2021 to 1.75% in 2020 and 2% in 2021.
  • DTE includes the results of a request for bids for renewable energy projects in order to determine the cheapest path for procuring more power over the next few years. But DTE does not propose a specific process for procuring renewable energy through competitive bids going forward.
  • Closely related to the IRP is DTE’s renewable energy plan. The MPSC had said the renewable plan needed to be revised along with the IRP because “many of the approvals that DTE Electric thought would be forthcoming via an IRP order will not occur and will need to be considered in other proceedings.” The renewable energy plan incorporates the results of the RFP to propose a specific new wind farm by 2021 and new solar power purchase agreements, as opposed to the “generic” renewables in the earlier version of the plan. The RFP does show overall lower costs than those for the generic renewables. For example, the cost of power from the Meridian wind farm in the revised renewable energy plan is estimated to be $46 to $49 per MWh, compared to $51 per MWh for the generic wind resource.
  • The utility will have to do a new analysis of the costs of retiring the Belle River coal-fired power plant. DTE wanted to retire the plant by 2029-2030 but according to opposition groups, a new analysis that included the cost of avoiding environmental controls will show that an earlier retirement is more economic.

More differences are listed in the MPSC’s announcement of the order.