There is nothing quite like a homecoming. DTE Energy Chairman and CEO Gerry Anderson recently returned to the University of Notre Dame as part of the Mendoza College of Business’s Ten Years Hence speaker series.

He addressed the energy industry’s challenge to power the country at an affordable rate while reducing CO2 emissions. As the longstanding chair of Edison Electric Institute’s Environmental Advisory Committee, Anderson has an incredible amount of experience to draw from.

As noted during his talk, public policy and business intersect intensely in the energy industry. In the 1970s, oil embargos turned the U.S. toward coal-fired power. At the time, coal produced 51 percent of all energy in America. Renewables? Almost nonexistent then.

Coal now produces just 32 percent of the country’s energy, while natural gas has doubled its share and renewables have gone up eightfold. Anderson revealed how shale gas drilling and the increased competitiveness of solar and wind energy – especially in Michigan – helped make this possible. Although coal will remain a part of the national mix, the economy will continue to move to more diverse energy sources – as long as they remain affordable for consumers.

Anderson believes that the U.S. can drive carbon levels down more than 80 percent by 2050, and it can be done economically. The only way to go is forward.

The biggest shift in the energy industry in decades is happening now. Click here for more DTE stories on our energy future

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