Detroit Edison zeroes out future production at three power plants

Detroit Edison is projecting no electricity production starting in 2015 at its Harbor Beach plant, and no electricity production starting in 2016 at both its River Rouge and Trenton Channel plants.

That information was in a May 23 filing, made up largely of tables, with the Michigan Public Service Commission following a May 22 hearing on Detroit Edison’s Power Supply Cost Recovery Plan. One table shows projected electricity production over the 2012-2016 period from the company’s power plants, including the Fermi 2 nuclear facility and the giant Monroe coal plant, both of which would operate normally during the forecast period.

Detroit Edison is a unit of DTE Energy (NYSE: DTE).

  • For Harbor Beach, power production is projected in the 76-77 GWh range for 2012-2014, then zero in each of 2015 and 2016.
  • River Rouge production is in the range of 2,769-2,896 GWh for 2012 to 2014, then only 8 GWh in 2015 and zero in 2016.
  • Trenton Channel production is in the range of 2,276-2,704 GWh in the 2012-2014 period, falling to only 7 GWh in 2015 and then zero in 2016.

The Detroit Edison filing didn’t offer a narrative description of why there is no projected generation from these three coal-fired sources toward the end of the forecast period.

On May 24, the Michigan Environmental Council and the Natural Resources Defense Council filed their own post-hearing data, including responses by Detroit Edison to questions they had posed. Those answers indicate that the three plants are projected for shutdown, with dry sorbent injection being considered for emissions reductions from other endangered coal units to comply with new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency air regulations.

One Detroit Edison answer cited by the environmental groups said the Midwest ISO has informally indicated that Harbor Beach may be needed for voltage support, but has not offered an opinion on the reliability impact of the retirement of Trenton Channel Unit 8. Another Detroit Edison answer said the company has not yet requested reliability studies from MISO on the potential retirements of River Rouge Units 2-3, St. Clair Unit 7 and Trenton Channel Units 7 and 9.

The MEC and NRDC in April testified in this case that the Harbor Beach, Trenton Channel, St. Clair and River Rouge units all began operation between 1949 and 1969, making them between 43 and 63 years old. None of the units at those plants have flue gas desulfurization, selective catalytic reduction, or fabric filters that will likely be needed to achieve compliance with EPA regulations, the groups said. Detroit Edison official Angela Wojtowicz testified that the company has assumed a capacity decrease in 2015 associated with possible retirement of Harbor Beach, River Rouge Units 2-3, St. Clair Unit 7 and Trenton Channel 7-9, the groups noted. The company also made clear, however, that these assumed retirements should not be construed as certain, they added.

The May 23 Detroit Edison filing also addresses other issues, including ongoing deployment of refined coal facilities to reduce mercury emissions at the Monroe, Belle River and St. Clair power plants.

The GenerationHub database shows these coal units and their nameplate capacities:

  • Belle River with two coal units, ST1 and ST2, each having 698 MW of capacity.
  • River Rouge with two coal units – Unit 2 (293 MW) and Unit 3 (358 MW).
  • St. Clair with these coal units – Unit 1 (169 MW), Unit 2 (156 MW), Unit 3 (156 MW), Unit 4 (169 MW), Unit 6 (353 MW) and Unit 7 (545 MW).
  • Trenton Channel’s coal units are Unit 7 (120 MW), Unit 8 (120 MW) and Unit 9 (536 MW).
  • Harbor Beach, Unit 1 (121 MW).
  • Monroe, which is the safest of the Detroit Edison coal plants due to size and new emissions controls – Unit 1 (817 MW), Unit 2 (823 MW), Unit 3 (823 MW) and Unit 4 (817 MW).

In December 2011, the Connors Creek (239 MW) and Marysville (84 MW) generating plants and Unit 5 at the St. Clair plant (250 MW) were retired consistent with Detroit Edison’s operational plan, said parent DTE Energy in its Feb. 16 Form 10-K annual report. The Form 10-K didn’t mention the fuel for that retired capacity. A DTE spokesman said Feb. 24 that Marysville and St. Clair Unit 5 involved coal-fired capacity, while Conners Creek was a coal plant that was converted to natural gas about a decade ago.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.