Michigan’s biggest utility adding batteries at former coal plant

By Jeffrey Tomich | 06/11/2024 06:54 AM EDT

DTE Energy plans to convert part of its retired plant site on the south side of Detroit to an energy storage center.

A DTE Energy sign in Detroit.

A DTE Energy sign in Detroit. Paul Sancya/AP

Michigan’s major utility broke ground on the largest battery storage system in the Great Lakes region at the site of a former coal plant as part of its strategy to reach net-zero carbon emissions and meet the state’s climate law signed last year by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

DTE Energy, which has 2.3 million electricity customers, plans to convert part of its retired Trenton Channel plant site on the south side of Detroit to house a 220 megawatt (880 megawatt-hour) battery energy storage center, enough to power almost 40,000 homes. The facility, which is expected to be operational in 2026, was approved by state regulators in March.

Battery storage is expected to play a significant role for utilities across the country by storing excess renewable energy and dispatching it when it’s needed. The Midwest in particular faces declining reserve margins in coming years as aging coal plants retire, prompting other utilities, such as Ameren Missouri, to propose new natural gas plants to meet demands at peak times.


DTE said the battery storage system supports its long-range energy plan approved by Michigan regulators last summer, which included the closure of one of the nation’s largest coal plants. The plan came just months before Whitmer signed legislation requiring Michigan utilities to supply 100 percent carbon-free power by 2040.