Fossil fuel gas makes the country’s power grid vulnerable

electrical substation under dark sky

Fossil fuel gas plants have grown in popularity over the past fifteen years; this year, these plants will produce 41% of the nation’s power. They’re also contributing to power outages across the country. Fossil fuel gas plants have contributed “to more than seven hours of power interruptions for US households on average in 2021, more than double the rate reported in 2013.”

During this past winter’s storms and freezing weather, a large number of fossil fuel gas-powered plants were offline. “[S]ome gas plants, like Indeck Niles Energy Center in Michigan, didn’t produce any power at all during the grid’s emergency calls to action, the data show. At that brand-new facility, which had only been commissioned a couple of months prior, severe winter weather caused critical equipment like transmitters and valves to freeze, said people familiar with the operations who asked not be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. Indeck Niles management declined to comment.”

Read the full article at Bloomberg

74,000 DTE customers without power after thunderstorm

Dark, ominous rain clouds with two lightning bolts.

“The state’s two largest utilities, DTE Energy and Consumers Energy − which have been under fire for months from customers and lawmakers − are scrambling to repair lines as quickly and safely as possible with close to 80,000 customers — about 74,000 and 6,000, respectively — still with no electricity.

Some of the hardest hit areas appeared to be in metro Detroit.”

Read the full article at the Detroit Free Press

Clean energy and environmental justice groups critique DTE Energy’s Integrated Resource Plan

A report card for DTE Energy’s long-term plan shows nearly all failing grades, along with an A+ for lobbying against the public interest. The full report card can be found at

A broad coalition of clean energy, environmental justice, and consumer advocacy organizations graded DTE’s proposed plan, looking at clean energy benefits, affordability, and equity. You can view the report card here.

“The report card criticizes DTE’s failure to ensure affordable energy bills for ratepayers and equitable access to clean energy. They have been accused of undervaluing customer-owned solar and energy efficiency, which can alleviate energy burdens and expedite the transition away from polluting fossil fuels.”

Read the full article at WGRT

DTE technology issues leave 2,500 Waterford residents without power during heat wave

thermometer showing hot temperatures under a bright sun

“Crews had been working to upgrade a primary cable when the back-up, called a secondary cable, failed. Technical issues with a portable substation generator caused further delays, [a DTE spokesman] said.

Resident Gary Schlachter, who lives near the lake, said he’s frustrated because he arrived home from surgery and was unable to use a physical therapy machine. The refrigerated food in the house has gone to waste, too, he said on Friday.

“This is ridiculous, especially after what they did last winter,” he said, calling it a “horrible utility performance.”

Pontiac Councilman Mikal Goodman called it “extremely dangerous to have any group of people in the heat without any true respite, especially those with medical conditions.”

Goodman called for better communication from DTE Energy and better compensation for their losses. Customers can apply for greater compensation based on damages on the DTE Energy website.”

Read the full article at The Oakland Press

DTE stays profitable while shutting off power for thousands

dark room with person in blankets sitting on bed by candlelight

In this powerful March 2022 article produced for ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network in partnership with Outlier Media, Sarah Alvarez revealed how DTE disconnected power for residents hundreds of thousands of times during the pandemic.

“During the early stages of the pandemic, Michigan’s largest power company leaned in to a chance to show its charitable side, helping buy laptops for Detroit’s public school children and publicizing that it would not disconnect the gas and electric service of people who could not pay their bills. DTE Energy said it was on “high alert to help those customers whose lives are being disrupted.”

But the relief from the threat of a shut-off ended quickly for DTE’s customers, who pay some of the highest electricity rates in the country. DTE’s moratorium on disconnections lasted just over three months.

An analysis by ProPublica and Outlier Media shows the extent to which one of the nation’s poorest cities and other communities across Southeast Michigan have been impacted by electric service disconnections since the COVID-19 pandemic began. DTE disconnected customers 80,600 times in 2020 and more than doubled that number in 2021. Its 178,200 disconnections for nonpayment last year were its highest annual total since 2016.”

Read the full article at ProPublica.