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Consumers Energy improves in climate pledge grade report, but DTE Energy gets an "F"

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

The Sierra Club has followed up on its report, The Dirty Truth About Utility Climate Pledges, and issued new grades to electric utilities across the country.

The grades indicate if the utilities are on track to meet climate pledges to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by the year 2030.

Consumers Energy went from a "C" grade last year to a "B" this year.

Jan O'Connell is with Sierra Club Michigan. She said Consumers Energy committed to closing all of its remaining coal-burning plants by 2025 — 14 years earlier than its previous pledge.

And the utility is also accelerating its adoption of renewable energy and battery storage, she said.

"Consumers Energy has made a very notable step forward in what we call decarbonization" — moving away from energy systems that produce carbon dioxide — O'Connell said, "and they should get some serious credit for this."

DTE Energy fared worse in the report. The utility's grade slipped from a "D" to an "F."

"DTE did retire a portion of their aging coal fleet, but unfortunately replaced it by constructing a massive fossil gas plant," said O'Connell. "And their largest coal plant, one of the worst emissions polluters in the country, is to remain running into 2040."

In a statement, DTE Energy said it is submitting a new long-term energy plan (known as an Integrated Resource Plan, or IRP) before the end of this year. "Even before the upcoming IRP, DTE's carbon reduction plans are consistent with the goals made by the state of Michigan, the U.S. Clean Power Plan and the Paris Climate Accord."

Consumers Energy said in a statement that it "appreciates the Sierra Club’s recognition" of its Clean Energy Plan. "Our company is committed to protecting the planet with solutions that meet Michigan’s needs. We will eliminate coal as an energy source by 2025 while also taking responsible steps to provide energy to nearly 2 million homes and businesses 24/7 every day," the statement continued.

DTE Energy and Consumers Energy are corporate sponsors of Michigan Radio.

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Tracy Samilton covers the auto beat for Michigan Radio. She has worked for the station for 12 years, and started out as an intern before becoming a part-time and, later, a full-time reporter. Tracy's reports on the auto industry can frequently be heard on Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as on Michigan Radio. She considers her coverage of the landmark lawsuit against the University of Michigan for its use of affirmative action a highlight of her reporting career.