DTE Energy has broken ground on the 1,150MW natural gas-fueled power plant in East China Township, marking its single largest step in reducing carbon emissions till date.

DTE Energy Headquarters, Detroit, Michigan

Image: DTE Energy headquarters in Michigan, US. Photo: courtesy of DTE Energy.

The $1bn Blue Water Energy Center is expected to contribute to the firm’s plan to reduce CO2 emissions by more than 80%.

Scheduled to be commissioned in 2022, the power plant will have capacity to produce affordable and reliable low-emission electricity required to power 850,000 homes.

DTE Energy chairman and CEO Gerry Anderson said: “Since 2009 we have driven investments of more than $2.5 billion in renewable energy with more investments coming.  But as we continue to retire coal-fired power plants – all of them by 2040 – we need to complement wind farms and solar arrays with high reliability assets.

“As we Michiganders know well, the wind doesn’t always blow, and the sun doesn’t always shine in our beautiful state. And that’s why we need natural gas-fueled plants like the Blue Water Energy Center.”

The plant will be built by Kiewit Engineering (MI), which will invest at least $200m on Michigan-based labor and materials. The firm has already commenced pre-qualification process for local sub-contractors.

Earlier, GE Power was selected to provide the major generation equipment for the project, which is expected to create more than 500 jobs during construction phase beginning in spring 2019.

Additionally, the project, which will run on natural gas and use combined-cycle technology that captures waste heat to produce additional electricity, will create 35 full-time positions once it begins operations.

St. Clair County commissioner Jeff Bohm said: “The new, cleaner natural gas power plant will create hundreds of jobs and provide additional revenue that we can put toward improving our roads, schools and other essential services.

“This $1 billion investment is a significant boost to our community and helps assure continued job growth while ensuring we can meet our state’s energy needs.”

DTE said that the power plant will be 70% cleaner and 40% more efficient compared to the three coal-fired plants which planned to be retired by 2023.

By 2022, DTE is planning to double its renewable energy capacity to 2GW and provide enough additional electricity to power 800,000 homes.