No Fooling: Local Energy Providers are Transforming Michigan Energy
It may be April Fools’ Day, but the Alliance for Michigan Power is serious about Michigan’s energy system—and local energy providers aren’t fooling around when it comes to transforming our energy future.
Natural Gas Development
Already an important part of Michigan’s energy mix, natural gas will become even more important in 2016 and beyond as several of Michigan’s older, coal-fueled energy plants close down over the coming months. Here’s a quick look at how local providers are leading the efforts to strengthen and support natural gas in Michigan.
- By April 15, Consumers Energy will shut down three power plants and seven of their oldest coal-fired generating units. More than half of the capacity that will be lost due to these closures will be replaced by a natural gas facility purchased by the local energy provider two years ago.
- DTE Energy is also making some major—and we mean major—investments in Michigan’s natural gas pipeline infrastructure over the next five years. To the tune of $1.4 billion, DTE Energy is investing in plans to modernize pipelines, install new service lines to Michigan homes and businesses, and replace more than 100 miles of gas main lines. All of these efforts will help “maintain the natural gas system’s safety and reliability while keeping prices affordable.”
Additionally, both local energy providers continue to support the critical “Next Mile” legislation to expand natural gas in Michigan, including rural areas and much of the Upper Peninsula. Relying more on natural gas can help Michigan bridge the gap as we move toward greater use of renewable resources, saving consumers money while protecting reliability.
Energy Efficiency Efforts
Both Consumers Energy and DTE Energy are also leading the state in developing energy efficiency programs. These programs range in scope and size, with some focusing on residential energy use while others incentivize energy efficiency on a larger scale.
- One Battle Creek manufacturer is “receiving more than $400,000 in incentives from Consumers Energy” for their investments in energy-saving equipment and improvements. The Michigan International Speedway was also awarded its own incentive for their energy-efficiency efforts, after the speedway “switched to LED lighting in its tunnel and on the exterior of its administration building.” Altogether, programs like these have helped drive energy efficiencies that saved Michigan about $1 billion since 2009—and that’s just factoring in Consumers Energy’s efforts.
- DTE Energy is expanding its energy efficiency efforts, receiving numerous requests for proposals from local vendors looking to participate in future efficiency programs. In 2015, “customers who participated in DTE [Energy]’s energy efficiency programs [were] expected to save $585 million over the lifetime of their energy-saving upgrades.”
- Additionally, DTE Energy recently received a 2016 CLEAR Consumer Education Award from non-profit group Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative. The award recognized the local energy provider’s launch of DTE Insight, a smartphone app that allows users to “monitor real time energy use.” The first of its kind from a Michigan energy provider, DTE Insight helps consumers learn more about and better manage their own energy use, resulting in a 5- to 10-percent reduction in energy savings, on average.
Renewable Energy Development
Together with developments in natural gas and energy efficiency, local energy providers’ investment and leadership in the field of renewable energy is also driving fundamental changes to our electric system.
- So far this year, DTE Energy has completed three new solar projects, including what is now Michigan’s largest solar array—bringing their total investment in solar energy since 2009 to more than $67 million. With another four solar projects underway—for a total of 30 solar arrays statewide—DTE Energy is the state’s largest investor and producer of solar energy.
- Consumers Energy is also continuing to develop its Solar Gardens initiative to “give its customers access to solar power even if they live in apartments, condos or shady lots with little direct sunshine.” Groundbreaking began last fall and enrollment is open now.
- Despite some setbacks on wind energy in Michigan, the Midwest continues to be a beacon for wind energy development. Manufacturing in our state “has been rejuvenated because of wind power,” and local energy providers continue to work toward greater integration of this renewable resource.
All in all, Michigan’s energy future looks bright—and that’s in no small part due to the comprehensive efforts of our local energy providers. You’d have to be a fool not to see that!