EAST CHINA TOWNSHIP – DTE Energy broke ground this week on a $1 billion natural-gas plant that will provide lower emission electricity for 850,000 homes starting in 2022.
The Blue Water Energy Center will help DTE Energy take a significant step toward its goal of reducing carbon emissions by more than 80 percent. East China Township is east of Richmond along the Canadian border.
“Just over a year ago, DTE first announced a broad sustainability initiative to reduce carbon emissions by more than 80 percent and do it in a way that maintains affordability and reliability for our customers,” said Gerry Anderson, chairman and CEO, DTE Energy. “In fact, we’re already doing it. Since 2009 we have driven investments of more than $2.5 billion in renewable energy with more investments coming.
“But as we continue to retire coal-fired power plants – all of them by 2040 – we need to complement wind farms and solar arrays with high reliability assets,” Anderson said. ”As we Michiganders know well, the wind doesn’t always blow, and the sun doesn’t always shine in our beautiful state. And that’s why we need natural gas-fueled plants like the Blue Water Energy Center. When it begins operations in 2022, it will represent our single largest step in reducing carbon emissions to date.”
The plant will be built by Kiewit Engineering Co., a Kiewit company. The company will spend a minimum of $200 million on Michigan-based labor and materials, and has begun the pre-qualification process for local sub-contractors.
Additionally, GE Power, a world leader in power generation and water technologies for utilities, independent power producers and industrial applications, has been chosen to provide the major generation equipment. More than 500 Michigan skilled labor jobs will be created during construction beginning in spring 2019 and an additional 35 full-time positions will be filled when the plant becomes operational in 2022.
“The new, cleaner natural gas power plant will create hundreds of jobs and provide additional revenue that we can put toward improving our roads, schools and other essential services,” said St. Clair County Commissioner Jeff Bohm. “This $1 billion investment is a significant boost to our community and helps assure continued job growth while ensuring we can meet our state’s energy needs.”
Blue Water Energy Center, unanimously approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) earlier this year, is expected be the most fuel-efficient power plant in Michigan. It will run on natural gas and use combined-cycle technology that captures waste heat to produce additional electricity. The plant will be 70 percent cleaner and 40 percent more efficient than the three coal-fired plants DTE plans to retire by 2023. It is a critical component of a balanced energy mix that provides 24/7, always available power generation required when wind turbines and solar arrays are unable to produce electricity due to weather conditions or time of day.
Already a significant producer of renewable energy, DTE has announced plans to double its renewable energy capacity by 2022 to 2,000 megawatts – providing enough additional electricity to power 800,000 homes, while driving investments of more than $1.7 billion in Michigan. Within the next year, DTE will begin operating the Pine River and Polaris wind parks, which will have a combined capacity of 330 megawatts and be DTE’s largest and most efficient wind parks to date.
“The Blue Water Energy Center not only represents our commitment to a cleaner energy future, but our commitment to the St. Clair community. DTE has been part of this community for 65 years and we intend to continue to be a force for growth and prosperity here for a long time to come,” Anderson said.