How a Big Coal Based Utility Pivots to Wind, Renewables

September 17, 2018

Up until just a few years ago, Detroit based DTE, the second largest utility in Michigan, and a classic example of a big, coal-heavy rust belt electric producer, was still pushing back on efforts to decarbonize and enact more ambitious Renewable Portfolio standards in the state.
Then something happened.
Confess I’m not sure exactly what – but it might have something to do with the great performance of the wind farms the utility has been putting up in recent years, and the increasingly obvious results of economic models from across the county that show renewables outperforming fossil fuels in coming decades, and perhaps an enlightened self interest in realizing that there’s no fighting a technological disruption of this magnitude.

My jaw dropped when a company official affirmed commitment to the Paris Initiative, and a low carbon profile by mid-century.
I get it – it’s not enough. But given the progress of the last 5 years, and the rapid pace of technological change, I don’t think it’s naive to imagine even more ambitious goal setting in the not too distant future.
Above, and below, the company is touting it’s success with robust wind development throughout the state, and the spectacular benefits to local communities.

6 Responses to “How a Big Coal Based Utility Pivots to Wind, Renewables”

  1. jmmirsky Says:

    Here’s the rest of the story….
    DTE submitted a proposal for a new $1B 1,100 MW natural gas-powered plant which was just approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC). The approval was over the objections of many entities which pushed for more aggressive funding of energy efficiency / optimization measures and greater renewable energy investments as an alternative, at least to cover some of the capacity or to delay the construction to point in time when renewables are more competitive.
    NG plants have a lifespan of 30+ years. That means the new plant will emit CO2 over that period; in addition the NG supply chain will contribute fugitive methane emissions.
    While DTE’s actions have improved significantly in the recent past, it and the MPSC won’t do the right thing until carbon’s externalities are considered in financial calculations. Carbon is atmospheric sewage which utilities are allowed to ‘dump’ at no cost to them but at great cost to us and the planet.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      I have a disagreement with DTE on the Natural Gas Plant – at the same time, my take is to encourage positive actions – and there is absolutely no doubt the company has come light years in a very short time.
      A lot can happen with a proposal like this, and the record shows that technology and economics in energy have been changing at warp speed…

  2. You can destroy mountains by lopping them off or topping them off (with wind turbines) and the latter is visible over much wider areas now. How can any environmentalist call such huge projects ecologically OK?

    All who support wind power should seriously check their land ethic, and sea ethic for that matter. Those stark machines can’t really be hidden at sea and they just build them bigger out there.

    Also, the cascading ecological effects of putting spinning giants all over the place are becoming clearer and the smug, green-laced lies aren’t working anymore.


    Per those articles, wind turbines are killing species both directly and indirectly as they interrupt natural predation patterns and ruin both day & night skies.

    This blog’s longstanding defense of this rapacious industry is being debunked as turbines take over more places. Many of us knew it was bad for years just by looking at them. We were never fooled by”green” branding once they escaped their limited roots at Altamont Pass, etc. They’re just too big and too numerous now.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Another Crock post I missed three months ago and didn’t comment on—-or perhaps it was so self-evidently true that it required no comment from me.

      I wake up today and there’s a bad smell in the house—-that sometimes happens when a skunk gets squashed in the street in front of my house, but not today—-it’s merely Stupid activating the “smelly and stupid message in the inbox” feature of my computer.

      Smelly because only a shill for fossil fuels would keep ranting against wind power in the face of all the exponentially worsening news about the climate. Stupid because anyone who equates mountain-top removal mining with wind turbines is dumb as a rock. And “cascading ecological effects”? and RUINING the skies?—ROTFLMAO!

      JFC!—-GO AWAY, RS. You’re an embarrassment to the idea that thinking sets humans above other animals.

      • I’m not a shill for fossil fuels, you dumb ol’ windiot. Read for content sometime. I’m saying wind energy is just a continuation of big business and environmental destruction, rebranded as something new, clean and green. It’s none of the above. You just prattle on like evidence never matters.

        Did you know that the same people who build offshore oil rigs are bringing their skills to the wind power game? They’re industrial mercenaries who don’t respect nature in any venue. Their primary goal is green money.

        I’m guessing you’re either vested in a wind project, ridiculously naive, or have the aesthetic values of a road-grading or logging crew, like these ones:

        • dumboldguy Says:

          I always read for content, but didn’t see anything much of “evidence” in your comment.

          EVERYTHING that we do in this capitalist globalist world we live in is “just a continuation of big business and environmental destruction” and that “their primary goal is money”. I do NOT understand why you have picked such a narrow and obscure corner of the battleground to fight so hard on.

          As for, “I’m guessing you’re either vested in a wind project, ridiculously naive, or have the aesthetic values of a road-grading or logging crew, like these ones”, I have to ask—-how old are you?

          I ask because this is one of the most sophomoric statements I’ve seen in a while (Sophomore, from the Greek Sophos = “wise” and Moros = “fool” or the more contemporary “suggestive of or resembling the traditional sophomore; intellectually pretentious, overconfident, conceited, etc., but immature.”

          PS I am still trying to wrap my head around your statement conflating mountaintop removal mining with wind turbines. You really did say that, didn’t you? Can you give ANY evidence that ANYONE on the planet agrees with you?

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