LDC Focus: Spotlight on DTE Energy

DTE Gas is taking a unique, holistic approach to achieving its net zero goal by including suppliers and customers on the journey

By Gas Technology September 29, 2020

As part of DTE Energy’s commitment to reduce its carbon footprint, the Michigan utility recently announced that DTE Gas will reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) — from procurement through delivery — to net zero by 2050.

This most recent announcement from the gas utility builds upon several previous DTE Energy announcements focused on lowering emissions and helping drive the fight against climate change. This gas announcement outlines a unique approach within the industry. DTE is taking a holistic and comprehensive approach to reducing the emissions associated with natural gas by not only achieving net zero gas emissions in its own operations by 2050 and encouraging the company’s suppliers to do the same, but also by inviting customers to address up to 100% of their own natural gas carbon footprint through participation in the company’s energy efficiency and voluntary emissions offset programs.

“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.”

A three-pronged approach will have profound impacts on reducing greenhouse gas emissions:

DTE Gas operations

The company will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its internal operations to net zero by 2050 through a combination of operational improvements and carbon offsets, while continuing to provide customers with safe, reliable and affordable energy. DTE Gas’s main renewal program and infrastructure modernization efforts will reduce both methane and combustion-related emissions from the company’s operations. In addition, the company will invest in a combination of renewable natural gas (RNG) and carbon offsets such as bio-sequestration.

Working with suppliers

DTE Gas is currently working with the production and supply industry to bring awareness to the need to reduce emissions from natural gas production. The company is leading the industry toward a common goal of developing a consistent reporting standard for how emissions are measured and reported from producers who supply the company with its natural gas needs. Within the next five years, DTE Gas will tighten up the purchasing requirements for natural gas to ensure it is acquiring the cleanest gas available from producers. Ultimately, the DTE Gas goal is to only procure gas from suppliers and transporters that have achieved net zero carbon emissions across their infrastructure.

Partnering with customers

DTE Gas will continue to encourage customers to reduce their own emissions by giving them greater access to energy efficiency programs. In addition, the company is enhancing its voluntary emissions offset program to allow customers to reduce up to 100% of their homes’ and businesses’ emissions through renewable natural gas and carbon offsets. Over time, DTE Gas also will look to leverage advanced technologies, such as hydrogen, geothermal and carbon capture as part of our efforts to help our customers reduce their emissions.

The Michigan chapter of the global environmental nonprofit, The Nature Conservancy, is supportive of the plan. The Nature Conservancy is a global environmental nonprofit working to create a world where people and nature can thrive.

“We applaud DTE’s commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions in its 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.”

Powering toward a net zero carbon future

Supplier emissions net zero

Gas production, gathering, processing and transport

  • Net zero greenhouse gases by 2050.
  • By 2050, DTE will be removing around 1.3 million metric tons of GHGs per year through practices to procure cleaner gas from suppliers.

DTE Gas emissions net zero

DTE Storage, transmission, city gate and distribution

  • Net zero greenhouse gases by 2050.
  • By 2050, we will be removing around 1.4 million metric tons of GHGs per year through infrastructure upgrades, operational improvements and carbon offsets.

Helping customers reduce their carbon footprint

Natural gas use in customers’ homes

  • Reduce GHG 35% by 2050 (from 2005).
  • By 2050, DTE will be removing around 3.5 million metric tons of GHG per year through energy efficiency programs, an enhanced voluntary emissions offset program and advanced technologies.

– This article appeared in the Gas Technology supplement.