DTE Energy Will Close Belle River Coal Power Plant Two Years Early

Detroit-based DTE Energy said it will cease all coal use at its Belle River Power Plant no later than December 2028, at least two years earlier than the facility’s previously scheduled 2030 end date.

The Belle River Power Plant comprises two electric generating units, each with a maximum gross design generating output of 697 MW. The 2,200-acre site on which it’s located is in China and East China Townships in St. Clair County, Michigan, and is shared with several other units including a few gas-fired peaking combustion turbines and the coal-fired St. Clair Power Plant. The Belle River units were brought online in 1984 and 1985, respectively.

DTE, which serves about 2.2 million electric customers in southeast Michigan, said retiring the facility by 2028 will enable the company to achieve its 50% carbon emissions reduction goal faster than planned and move the company closer to its ultimate goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions. DTE has already retired four of its coal-fired facilities—Marysville, Harbor Beach, Conners Creek, and River Rouge—and plans to retire its Trenton Channel and St. Clair plants next year.

“A key part of DTE’s Clean Vision Plan involves the sequential retirement of our coal plants,” Jerry Norcia, CEO of DTE Energy, said in a statement issued to the press. “By making this important generation decision now, DTE continues to be proactive in improving our reliability, addressing the expanding needs of our customers and accelerating our journey to cleaner energy generation that is affordable for the customers and communities we serve.” 

DTE said it expects to reduce carbon dioxide and methane emissions by more than 80% by 2040 to “produce cleaner energy while keeping it safe, reliable, and affordable.” The company claims it is Michigan’s largest producer of wind and solar energy, with 50 wind and solar farms generating enough clean energy to power about 700,000 homes. Furthermore, DTE plans to nearly double its renewable energy capacity by 2025. DTE also said it will “evaluate a conversion of the Belle River Power Plant to cleaner energy resources.”

In advance of ceasing coal use at Belle River, DTE said it “will continue to plan, partner and work closely with community leaders, government officials and local businesses to foster economic development and investment within St. Clair County and throughout Michigan.” The company also reported that it is developing an employee transition strategy that will ensure all employees continue to have opportunities within the company. Specifically, it plans to collaborate with union leadership, provide workforce re-skilling paths, and offer redeployment options for employees.

Aaron Larson is POWER’s executive editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine).

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