Ann Arbor City Council approves public power feasibility study

A light bulb. (Pexels)

ANN ARBOR – Ann Arbor City Council approved a study exploring the feasibility of a publicly-owned power utility in a 10-1 vote on Tuesday evening.

The city will contract with NewGen Strategies and Solutions and 5 Lakes Energy to conduct the study as well as an energy options analysis.

Nonprofit grassroots citizen group Ann Arbor for Public Power has been leading the charge to replace DTE Energy with a municipal utility with support from local organizations and residents.

Watch: Nonprofit calls for public power in Ann Arbor amid power outages

“The message that was sent last night was loud and clear,” A2P2 spokesperson Zackariah Farah said in a statement. “City Council responds to the concerns of its constituents and is committed to moving forward with bold climate action. This is particularly uplifting for the younger residents of our city who have had enough of DTE’s extremely dirty fossil fuel power.”

The study will explore ways the city could power the new grid with 100% renewable energy, in line with its A2ZERO carbon neutrality goals. It will also conduct a rate analysis of a sustainability energy utility, which would allow residents to have the option to partially use an electric utility, reducing the need for electricity provided by DTE.

According to an A2P2 release, 41 cities and towns in Michigan currently operate municipal utilities.

“DTE Energy generates 70% of its electricity from fossil fuels, mainly coal, and only 10% from renewables,” reads an A2P2 release. “A municipal electric utility, on the other hand, can purchase renewable energy off the regional grid and develop it locally. A muni can also update aging infrastructure to reduce outages and make the grid more resilient.”