MPSC approves part of DTE Electric Co.'s renewable energy plan, delays decision on future wind projects to company IRP

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   July 18, 2019

Contact: Nick Assendelft 517-284-8300
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LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Public Service Commission today approved in part DTE Electric Co.’s renewable energy plan, including the purchase of three Michigan wind power projects. The Commission said a decision on proposed future renewable energy development will be made as part of its disposition of DTE’s pending integrated resource plan.

Utilities are required to file renewable energy plans with the MPSC under statutes that promote the development and use of clean and renewable energy resources and reduce energy waste through cost-effective programs. DTE filed its current REP in March 2018 (Case No. U-18232).

The Commission approved DTE’s purchase of three wind projects that will qualify for a 100 percent federal Production Tax Credit, and resulting in savings the MPSC says will benefit ratepayers. DTE will buy the Isabella 1 and Isabella 2 projects after they are built and tested by developer Isabella Wind. The proposed generators in Isabella County will produce a total of 383 megawatts and will be operational by November 2020. DTE also will buy from Gichi Noodin Wind Farm LLC the 72.5 MW Fairbanks Wind Park in Delta County, which will be built by October 2020. Power from all three wind farms will be used to meet demand in DTE’s Large Customer Voluntary Green Pricing program.

The Commission said DTE failed to prove that proposed company-owned wind projects to be built in 2021 or later, and which do not qualify for the full federal tax credit, can be cost-effective compared to alternative sources of renewable generation and ownership models. The additional wind projects will be reviewed as part of DTE’s integrated resource plan, which is a comprehensive look at supply-side resources needed to meet power generation needs.

DTE will also launch two pilot solar programs paired with battery storage, microgrid technology, and/or electric vehicle charging totaling about 15 megawatts. It must file reports with the MPSC on program costs, planning and development status, lessons learned, and how the pilots will add value for future solar developments.

The Commission rejected a request by intervenor Soulardarity that DTE add third-party community solar projects to its plan, saying incorporating community solar into utilities’ systems is being discussed in a Commission Staff-led workgroup to see how it could potentially benefit all ratepayers, including low-income customers and communities of color.

The MPSC also approved a customer refund of a renewable energy surcharge that was collected but later overturned by the Michigan Court of Appeals. The 5-cent per meter charge was approved by the Commission in Case No. U-13808 in 2004. After the Court’s ruling, the Commission in 2012 ordered DTE to return the amount collected, with interest. DTE inadvertently omitted the refund from a past rate case and now will disburse more than $1.4 million. Residential customers will see a one-time estimated 65-cent refund on their next bills while commercial and industrial customers will get an estimated 79-cent refund. DTE says its current REP does not include a renewable energy surcharge.

Intervenors in the case were the Commission Staff, Michigan Environmental Council, Soulardarity, Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Cypress Creek Renewables LLC, Geronimo Energy, and Ranger Power LLC.

Since the Commission made changes to DTE’s renewable energy plan, the company has 14 days to indicate whether it supports the changes. If the company does not agree, the Commission’s approval of parts of the plan are voided and DTE must file a revised renewable energy plan by Nov. 1.

DTE’s previous renewable energy plan (Case No. U-18111) was approved in September 2016.

To look up cases from today’s meeting, access the E-Dockets filing system here.

To watch a livestream of the MPSC’s meetings, click here.

For information about the MPSC, visit www.michigan.gov/mpsc, sign up for one of its listservs, or follow the Commission on Twitter.

DISCLAIMER: This document was prepared to aid the public’s understanding of certain matters before the Commission and is not intended to modify, supplement, or be a substitute for the Commission’s orders. The Commission’s orders are the official action of the Commission.

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