Today DTE Gas announced an innovative new plan to build an even cleaner energy future for Michiganders, all while providing safe, reliable and affordable energy.
With our customers and suppliers, we’ll reduce greenhouse gas emissions from residential and small business customers by 6 million metric tons annually – the equivalent of removing 1.3 million cars from the road by 2050.
“Climate change is one of the defining public policy issues of our time and it demands a bold response,” said Jerry Norcia, president and CEO of DTE Energy. “The level of impact urgently needed can only be achieved by viewing the challenge through a holistic lens, bringing our suppliers and our customers on the journey with us. This is the right plan for our environment, for our customers and for our communities.”
Internally, we’ll reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 through operational improvements, utilizing advanced technologies and investments in renewable natural gas and carbon offsets.
Our gas suppliers will be required to supply DTE Gas with net zero emissions based natural gas product by 2050. In addition, our gas customers can contribute to a cleaner energy future by participating voluntary programs that will allow them to reduce up to 100% of their usage emissions through energy efficiency, renewable natural gas and carbon offsets.
This innovative plan delivers a ten-fold reduction in emissions compared to other gas utilities, which focused primarily on their own internal emissions. Our plan significantly expands DTE Gas’s 2018 commitment to reduce methane emissions by 80%.
“I’m pleased to see that DTE is committing to a plan that includes suppliers and customers in their net zero commitment,” said Michigan House of Representatives Democratic Leader Christine Greig. “DTE’s plan reflects the proactive thinking that is necessary to combat climate change and ensure a sustainable future for our state.”
The Michigan chapter of the global environmental nonprofit, The Nature Conservancy, is similarly supportive of the plan.
“We applaud DTE’s commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions in their gas operations, for it is an important step toward reducing Michigan’s carbon footprint,” said Helen Taylor, Michigan director of The Nature Conservancy. “We know that nature can provide powerful solutions and we look forward to working with DTE to identify and implement as many of those solutions as possible.”
Frequently asked questions
1. What does “net zero” carbon emissions mean?
Carbon neutrality or having a net zero carbon footprint refers to achieving zero carbon emissions by balancing carbon emissions with carbon removal or simply eliminating carbon emissions altogether.
2. What makes DTE’s plan unique to other decarbonization commitments made by other gas utilities?
Our commitment is much more inclusive than many of those previously announced by other gas utilities for two main reasons: 1) we are including all greenhouse gas emissions from our operations, and 2) we are including our customers and suppliers in our strategy.
3. Why include suppliers and customers in this effort?
We are taking a step to be a leader in the natural gas decarbonization effort and we recognize we cannot do it alone. In our central role, we see it as imperative to align with our suppliers and customers to work towards common goals benefiting the environment.
There is an extensive supply chain to get natural gas out of the ground and ultimately delivered to homes and businesses for use. All along this process, there are emissions which arise due to leaks, venting, compression and ultimately combustion at the burner tip (end use). Our plan takes a holistic view to ensure we do our part to lower emissions at all points along this process.
4. Why focus on decarbonizing natural gas rather than on eliminating fossil fuels altogether?
Our goal is to protect the environment while providing customers a diverse energy mix that is safe, reliable and affordable. Natural gas is a critical part of a clean energy future and has an important place in the Michigan energy landscape for decades to come for a number reasons. First, there are many benefits to using natural gas such as its low cost, abundance and reliability as an energy source. Second, in a colder climate like Michigan’s, natural gas currently presents the most effective solution for home heating needs and will remain so for the foreseeable future.
5. How much is this plan going to cost? Will it impact customer affordability?
DTE works hard to reduce and control costs on behalf of customers. In fact, natural gas prices for our customers are down 30% over the last 10 years as a result of our efforts. The DTE Gas net zero commitment will not impact our customers’ bills in the foreseeable future.
6. What calculations went into setting 2050 as the net zero target?
Our goal was to set an impactful and realistic target that does not jeopardize affordability. We also placed careful consideration on changing policies and advances in technology. While 2050 is an ambitious target, it’s important to recognize that the work has already started. The greenhouse gas emissions from the three phases of our plan (production, DTE owned assets, customer use) are 1.5 million metric tons lower today than they were in 2005. Going forward, we will be reaching important milestones along the way to our 2050 goals. We anticipate our plan being 40% complete by 2030, then over 60% complete by 2040, before achieving our ultimate goal in 2050.
7. Does this plan affect the upgrades DTE is currently making on the system? How is customer reliability being ensured?
Our plans already include significant investments and advancements in modernizing our natural gas delivery system – putting us on a good footing for the transformation we need to make to achieve our carbon goals. In fact, this work has already resulted in a 20% reduction in emissions since 2011. As we transition to cleaner natural gas, we will balance our clean energy evolution with safety, affordability and reliability for all our customers today and future generations.
8. What specific components are included within the utility assets owned by DTE Gas (internal emissions commitment)?
All utility owned assets where greenhouse gas emissions occur are included in our internal net zero commitment by 2050. These would include the following:
- All Michigan compressor stations (combustion and leaks)
- Leaks from distribution lines and services
- Leaks from gate/transfer stations
- Leaks from transmission lines
- Leaks from storage
- Blowdown/venting emissions
9. What is a carbon offset and how does DTE Gas plan to take advantage of their benefits within its environmental plan?
A carbon offset is a reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases made to compensate for emissions made elsewhere. The first and ultimate primary goal of our plan is to stop releasing greenhouse gas source-based emissions. We recognize that after pursuing various initiatives to reduce emissions through operational improvements, technologic advancements and introduction of renewable fuels we may still have some emissions remaining. These remaining emissions which we can’t eliminate will be negated using carbon offsets. Throughout our journey, we’ll continue to explore and evaluate new strategies or technologies to be part of the solution to our net zero commitment.
10. Are the emissions associated with all customers of DTE Gas included in this commitment?
DTE Gas is responsible for purchasing natural gas on behalf of our residential and small business customers so we have a direct involvement from purchase all the way through to delivery. Therefore, the emissions associated with these customers are part of our commitment. Our larger commercial and industrial customers are required to procure their own natural gas separately from a third-party broker. We will continue to work with these customers to develop creative solutions to address their sustainability goals.
11. How dependent is your plan on emergent / advanced technologies becoming commercialized?
To drive the deepest emissions reductions, additional technologies that reduce end use emissions will be necessary. Work is underway within the industry to understand how advanced technologies such as renewable natural gas, hydrogen and carbon capture can play a larger role in the decarbonization effort for natural gas. We are heavily involved with various collaborative efforts to help make progress on developing some of these advanced technologies. We are working with other leaders in the industry, including the American Gas Association and Gas Technology Institute to collaborate with our peers on the research and development of these advanced technologies. While these technologies will play a large role in reaching our goal, other parts of our plan can – and have – moved forward. Our near-term goals are achievable today through operational improvements, existing renewable natural gas and carbon offset options.
12. Will DTE’s electric utility be implementing similar goals to procure net zero gas for the new Blue Water natural gas generation plant?
This announcement is purely related to the gas utility and does not directly involve our electric operations. Our electric company committed to a net zero goal in September 2019 and the Blue Water plant is a critical component of reaching net zero in our electric business by 2050. The carbon emissions from this plant will be about 70 percent lower per kilowatt hour than the coal plants it is replacing. Using lower emission fuel like natural gas, combined with carbon capture technology and hydrogen storage/fuel innovations, could make this plant net zero in the future. As we work through the initiatives and efforts to reduce emissions associated with our natural gas suppliers, we will leverage our learnings to help with sustainability efforts across the entire DTE company.GasValueChain
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