The Michigan Public Service Commission today approved DTE Electric Co.’s amended renewable energy plan and asked the company to find ways for smaller or community-based projects to be considered in future renewable energy investment proposals.
In February, the commission recommended substantial changes in DTE’s proposed integrated resources plan (Case No. U-18232), citing a lack of competitive bidding. DTE filed an amended renewable energy plan in April that the commission later approved but noted that the minimum size requirements effectively precluded smaller wind and solar resources from consideration.
Renewable energy groups have long complained about the slowness of DTE Electric’s review of request for proposals to develop solar energy. They say DTE limits proposals for solar to minimum 25 megawatts and wind at 100 megawatts.
Environmental and renewable energy advocates included: Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association; Natural Resources Defense Council; Environmental Law & Policy Center; Vote Solar; Ecology Center; Solar Energy Industries Association; Soulardarity; Geronimo Energy, LLC; Cypress Creek Renewables, LLC; and Pine Gate Renewables, LLC.
Based on the concerns raised by the groups, the commission said improving the competitive bidding process should be addressed later this year as part of the MI Power Grid Competitive Procurement Workgroup.
DTE said in a statement the MPSC’s approval allows the company to keep electric rates at their current level through 2022. Customers will not see a DTE rate increase for more than a year, an official said.
Under DTE’s revised renewable energy plan, more than 353 megawatts of wind and solar projects will be added to the electric grid by 2022. New solar projects in 2022 will triple DTE’s solar generation capacity, the company said.
When operational, the new projects will annually offset 619,154 metric tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions from 134,000 cars. The projects also will generate enough clean energy to power 620,000 homes.
Since 2009, DTE has been the largest investor in renewables in Michigan, driving $3 billion in solar and wind energy infrastructure and meeting the state’s renewable portfolio standard, requiring 15% of electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2021.
Over the next four years, the company will invest an additional $2 billion in renewable energy assets and more than double its renewable energy capacity.
DTE also announced it has formalized a plan to move up the retirement of the coal-fired River Rouge power plant to May 2021, 10 months earlier than planned.
But DTE has not yet addressed the commission’s request to reconsider the proposed retirement of the coal-fired Belle River power plant in 2029-2030. DTE said it will address the Belle River closing date in a future commission filing.
The MPSC said the date of retirement was inadequately justified because the avoidance of new environmental upgrade costs was not considered in the analysis.
In other action, the commission:
• Approved DTE Electric’s request of the Meridian Wind Farm Turbine project’s supply agreements and engineering, procurement and construction contracts between DTE Electric and General Electric Co., Vestas-American Wind Technology Inc., and Barton Malow Co. The proposed wind farm ins located in Midland and Saginaw counties and will provide 224.9 megawatts of electricity in late 2021.
• Approved DTE Electric’s request for solar power purchase agreements with Assembly Solar III, LLC, and River Fork Solar II, LLC, both subsidiaries of Ranger Power, for two 25-year terms. The solar plant in Shiawassee County will generate 79 megawatts of renewable energy and the River Fork solar facility in Calhoun County will provide 49 megawatts.
• Approved amended power purchase agreements between Consumers Energy Co. and Bullhead Solar, LLC, Geddes 1 Solar and Geddes 2 Solar. It also moves up the start dates to Oct. 15, 2020, from Sept. 14, 2021. The three plants will pay accelerated start date payments totaling $189,000, an amount Consumers will provide to customers through its power supply cost recovery proceedings. The amended PPAs are expected to reduce customer costs by a total of $738,618.
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