DTE Energy’s natural gas subsidiary has pledged to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 through a series of actions involving suppliers, customers and its own infrastructure, aligning with long-term goals for the utility’s electricity operations.
With the pledge, the Detroit-based company expanded on its 2018 pledge to reduce methane emissions by 80 percent by 2040. It plans to reach net zero with a “three-fold approach” that includes requiring its suppliers to also operate at net zero by 2050.
The company’s ongoing gas main renewal and infrastructure modernization program will help reduce emissions in its own operations, and it also plans to invest in renewable natural gas (waste-to-energy) and carbon offsets.
Meanwhile, the company will allow its customers to voluntarily pay a monthly premium for carbon offsets and renewable gas. Residential customers can pay up to $16 a month to completely offset their carbon footprints, Bridge reported.
DTE officials say it’s part of the company’s growing commitment to clean energy.
“Climate change is one of the defining public policy issues of our time and it demands a bold response,” DTE President and CEO Jerry Norcia said in a statement. “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.”
DTE and Jackson-based Consumers Energy — the state’s two major investor-owned utilities — see an increasing role for renewable natural gas as part of their climate change commitments, although for years high costs and a lack of policy incentives have stalled widespread deployment of the fuel.
RNG is sourced from facilities including landfills and others that handle agricultural waste. The methane from these sites is captured and processed and can be used for heating, electricity and transportation.
DTE also owns a non-regulated subsidiary specifically focused on biogas. For years, the utility had the only program in the state for customers to voluntarily enroll in RNG, which was launched in 2015 and extended last year. The program had 2,200 customers last year, according to the Michigan Public Service Commission.
Last year, Consumers Energy pledged to reach net zero methane emissions from its natural gas delivery system by 2030. That plan includes an 80-percent reduction in methane leaks while the remaining 20 percent will be offset by purchasing RNG.