MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. – The energy industry in America is undergoing a massive change, and it's happening largely without a lot of attention, DTE Energy CEO Gerry Anderson said.
“I tell people this is the biggest change in how we generate electricity since the post-World War II era. It’s playing out kind of quietly, but accelerating," Anderson told Local 4 during an interview Thursday at the Mackinac Policy Conference. “We are in a phase where a lot of the infrastructure that was put in place 50 years ago is aging, and there are new demands from society for environmental improvement or simply for reliability and modernization that have us in big replacement mode.”
Anderson said DTE, which is based in Detroit, is retiring a lot of power plants and making large investments to replace them with renewable energy technology.
Two solar parks in Lapeer will be the largest owned by a company east of the Mississippi, Anderson said. The parks cover 250 acres and have hundreds of thousands of solar panels. The solar parks are capable of providing enough clean energy to power more than 9,000 homes.
Anderson said that while great strides are being made in getting energy-efficient technology into homes, such as LED lighting, it's still not ahead of the curve.
“What we’re seeing in these homes is essentially flat load. The reason is that the efficiency gains that we’re seeing out of some of these end uses are being replaced by more end uses, computers, cellphones, televisions. Absent these efficiency technologies, we’d be seeing a lot of growth," Anderson said.
He also expects "significant electrifying" in the auto world as automakers work to comply with Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirements enacted by the government.
“When the auto sector that consumes all that petroleum begins to convert its demands our wind turbine, solar panels, and gas plants, it’s a big addition of load for us. It’s one of the things in the future we think a lot about the timing of and our ability to meet it, because we know eventually it’s coming," Anderson said.