DTE Energy (Detroit) has filed renewable energy and energy optimization proposals with the Michigan Public Service Commission that would significantly increase the amount of renewable energy generated in the state and establish broad-based energy efficiency programs for DTE Energy customers.

"These ambitious proposals represent a significant investment in Michigan's energy future," said Anthony F. Earley, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of DTE Energy. "Comprehensive energy legislation enacted last year has provided a framework for us to move forward with the development of renewable energy, as well as efficiency programs that will enable customers to save energy and money."

Public Act 295, which was passed by the Michigan legislature last October, calls for the state's electric utilities to serve 10 percent of their retail sales with renewable energy by 2015. To meet this goal, DTE Energy's March 4 filing proposes adding 1200 MW of renewable energy. The company plans to construct renewable energy projects to meet about half of this capacity, and contract with third-party producers for the rest.

DTE Energy expects the majority of its renewable energy to come from wind resources, with a small portion -- about 20 MW -- coming from two proposed solar energy pilot projects. In preparation for developing its renewable energy plan, DTE Energy has acquired easements on more than 50,000 acres of land in Huron County in Michigan's Thumb region for development of a large-scale wind farm.

"We are very excited about the role renewable energy will play in our future energy portfolio," Earley said. "DTE Energy has been gathering wind, wildlife and other environmental data in the Thumb area for more than a year, and everything we have seen shows promise for wind power development in the region."

DTE Energy's filing also proposes a series of energy efficiency programs to help residential, commercial and industrial customers reduce their gas and electric usage and save money on their energy bills. The energy optimization initiatives filed by the company would encourage residential customers to recycle older, energy-wasting appliances, and provide incentives for the purchase of Energy Star appliances and energy efficient heating and cooling equipment. Commercial and industrial customers would receive incentives for constructing energy efficient buildings and installing energy efficient equipment and controls.

Other initiatives proposed by DTE Energy include programs to assist low income households with energy efficiency measures, incentives for the construction of new Energy Star homes, and plans to offer energy audits on existing structures. The audits would focus on basic energy-saving measures, and incorporate items such as compact fluorescent lights, low flow shower heads and programmable thermostats.

Under Public Act 295, utilities are committed to assuring that surcharges for implementing the renewable energy program do not exceed $3 a month for residential customers. The company also has proposed energy efficiency surcharges that would average about 85 cents a month for a typical Detroit Edison residential customer and $1.20 a month for a typical MichCon residential customer. Charges could begin appearing on utility bills later this year, following approval of the programs.

"Meeting Michigan's future energy needs in a manner that is environmentally responsible and affordable for customers is a delicate balance," Earley said. "The Michigan legislature, through this progressive energy policy, has provided a framework for DTE Energy to move forward with a sensible program for clean, renewable energy options, and an array of energy efficiency programs that will allow customers to save money for years to come."