DTE Energy Co. said Wednesday it will stop burning coal in its Belle River Power Plant in St. Clair County’s China Township in 2028, two years earlier than originally planned, in response to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency policy change.
The move, according to the Detroit-based utility company, means it can accelerate its timeline for achieving 50% reductions in carbon emissions. It now expects to reach that target by 2028 instead of 2030.
“A key part of DTE’s Clean Vision Plan involves the sequential retirement of our coal plants,” DTE Energy CEO Jerry Norcia said in a statement. “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.”
What the move means for the future of the plant itself has not yet been determined. DTE said it is evaluating whether it would be feasible to convert the plant to a cleaner energy source such as natural gas. More information on that assessment will be available in future regulatory filings, the company said.
To date, DTE has retired four of its coal-fired facilities: Marysville, Harbor Beach, Conners Creak and River Rouge. It is slated to retire two of its four remaining coal plants, St. Clair and Trenton Channel, in 2022.
The company also now will move up by one year, to the fall of 2022, the filing of its updated Clean Vision Plan with the Michigan Public Service Commission. The filing will provide an update on DTE’s “journey to cleaner, reliable, and affordable energy,” according to a news release, as well as “a detailed assessment of the existing and future energy needs” of its customers and how it plans to meet those.