A darn good reason for Michigan's utilities to oppose Proposal 3's 25x2025 clean energy standard (as long as you're not a ratepayer)
Our state's big utilities, Consumers Energy and DTE Energy, are spending millions to defeat Proposal 3's 25x25 renewable energy standard even though they acknowledge renewables are creating jobs and providing homes and businesses with electricity at costs far cheaper than anticipated.
For DTE Energy - which still uses out-of-state coal to provide 70 percent of its electricity generation - a story in Detroit's Metro Times reports a pretty darn good reason for the company to be threatened by cheaper, cleaner renewable power.
DTE is heavily invested in the coal business - shipping it, storing it, processing it and moving it across the nation.
Reports the Metro Times:
"one of its many subsidiaries, DTE Coal Services, "is one of the largest marketers and transporters of coal to third-party customers in North America. They provide a broad range of coal sourcing, marketing, risk management, transportation, rail management and trading services nationally to coal producers, electric utilities, steel companies and other industries. DTE Coal Services is also active in trading coal, emissions and carbon in the financial and physical markets."
And then there's Midwest Energy Resources Co., which operates an "innovative rail-vessel trans-shipment system that handles much of the Great Lakes market for low-sulfur western coal."
Also under the DTE umbrella is what's known as a "reduced emission fuels" operation that treats coal so that it produces less pollution when burned. According to the company's own estimates, that operation will generate $30 million in earnings this year and about $50 million a year beginning in 2013."
So, what's good for DTE's profits and shareholders is a raw deal for lowly ratepayers.
In any other business we'd call that a conflict of interest.
In DTE's world, it's business as usual.