Nestled behind tall grass-covered berms near the St. Clair River in East China Township, hundreds of skilled-trades workers bustle about the construction site for DTE’s new natural gas-fueled power plant. Since the energy company broke ground on the 1,150-megawatt Blue Water Energy Center (BWEC) last August, crews have pounded in 3,200 80-foot sections to create 1,600 160-foot-long steel piles into the bedrock, moved 250,000 cubic yards of dirt, installed 160,000 linear feet (over 30 miles) of conduit, placed 22,000 lineal feet of pipe, and installed 150 tons of steel reinforcing bar to place 7,000 cubic yards of concrete so far. 

The Blue Water Energy Center construction crew has also been busy giving back to the community. So far, they have volunteered their time and donated more than $51,000 to local charities. In June, they participated in a community cleanup project in Port Huron and donated $4,300 to KIDS, a program that supports those who fall on hard times, in addition to donating clothing and other children’s items.

Six days a week, workers representing numerous different crafts are on site to support the $951 million project. Jobs will peak at over 500 full-time skilled labor positions during construction and the plant will provide about 35 full-time permanent positions once BWEC comes online in 2022.

At DTE, we’re national leaders in developing renewable energy sources and reducing carbon emissions. In March, we announced plans to reduce carbon emissions by more than 80% by 2040, and by at least 50% by 2030. As part of this plan, we will close three coal plants in 2022. 

The new gas plant, approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission in 2018, will provide enough 24/7, affordable and reliable energy to power 850,000 homes and will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 70% compared with the three coal plants it is replacing. It also will reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions by more than 95% compared with the three coal plants slated for retirement, while supporting Michigan’s manufacturing operations and residential customers.  

“The plant, currently a little over 20% complete, will be a state-of-the-art, natural gas combined-cycle plant and one of the most efficient plants in the United States,” said Mike Banks, plant manager, BWEC. “It will be able to come off line quickly when wind and solar are generating enough power for our customers, and it can come back online quickly whenever the sun stops shining and the wind stops blowing to ensure reliable, affordable, 24/7 power.”

Blue Water Energy Center will be the single largest contributor to our carbon reduction goal because it enables us to quickly grow our renewable energy capacity, which will more than double by 2024. The new, flexible gas plant will provide 24/7 power when wind and solar are unavailable, generating the energy needed to maintain the reliability of the state’s electrical grid.