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DTE plans 1,000 MW of new natural gas plants to replace retiring coal units

DTE Energy Co.plans to build 1,000 MW of natural gas capacity to replace planned coal plantretirements through 2023.

The company expects to invest $1 billion to $1.5 billion inthe new assets, which are slated for completion between 2021 and 2023,according to a Sept. 29 newsrelease.

One of the new plants would be placed next to the 1,270-MWBelle Riverstation, which is 81% owned by DTE and 19% owned by the .

Having additional capacity is vital as DTE expects to shut anumber of coal units in eastern Michigan including its 520-MW unit 9, the272-MW River Rougeunit 3, and six St. Clairunits, totaling 1,367 MW. DTE the planned retirements inJune.

"These new energy generation investments willsignificantly reduce greenhouses gases by moving to cleaner technologies. Justas important, it will enable us to deliver safe, affordable and reliable energyfor DTE's 2.2 million customers," DTE Chairman and CEO Gerry Anderson saidin the news release.

DTE announced that the new gas facilities, which can powerabout 850,000 homes, just days after agreeingto purchase multiple midstream natural gas assets in the Appalachian Basin forabout $1.3 billion. The systems move natural gas from the Marcellus and Uticashale regions to multiple markets.

The company has an $18 billion investment plan from 2016 to 2025,of which $6.5 billion to $10.5 billion is slated for distributioninfrastructure, according to a Sept. 28 business update. The remainder is for new generation,maintenance and other projects.

The new gas facilities reflect the company's strategy to usenatural gas, wind and solar power to replace old coal units and lowergreenhouse gas emissions in advance of potential federal greenhouse gasstandards placed on existing power plants. The replacement poweris also crucial after a near-term outlook from the state Public ServiceCommission showed apotential shortage of power in the summer of 2017.

DTE noted that it has begun to increase its natural gasresources. In 2015 it bought the 732-MW Renaissance Power plant in Carson City, Mich., and the350-MW East Chinaplant, also called the Dean peaker, in East China Township, Mich.