Great Lakes Energy News Roundup: DTE Energy rate hike, Chicago firm fined for polluting canal

Great Lakes Energy News Roundup: DTE Energy rate hike, Chicago firm fined for polluting canal
May 14, 2020 Ian Wendrow
Photo Tony Webster via Wikimedia

Keep up with energy-related developments in the Great Lakes area with Great Lakes Now’s biweekly headline roundup.

In this edition: Michigan Public Service Commission reigns in planned rate hike by DTE Energy, Michigan’s Lower Peninsula failed to meet energy grid reliability standards set by regional monitor, Hilco suburban development fined for failing to prevent pollution of Chicago canal, and renewables are forecasted to overtake coal as a leading source of electricity by the end of this year.

Click on the headline to read the full story:


Chicago health officials fined Hilco, a suburban development firm, $2,500 after discovering the company was allowing “silty water” to drain into the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. This comes a little under a month after the same firm mishandled the demolition of a defunct smokestack, releasing a dust cloud in the Little Village neighborhood. 

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has been one of several city officials to strongly reprimand Hilco for the demolition, though health officials concluded that the dust released by the smokestack destruction poses “no apparent health risk to the surrounding community.” 


A requested rate hike from DTE Energy for $351 million was reduced to $188 million by the Michigan Public Service Commission, who also expressed concern over DTE’s plans to invest in coal-powered energy plants among other concerns. For Michigan ratepayers, this new increase will amount to an additional four dollars per month added on to energy bills, frustrating Michiganders who have complained about recent, extensive power outages. 

Though the Commission’s decision was celebrated by environmental and consumer advocacy groups, others like Congressional Representative Rashida Tlaib described the rate increase as “outrageous,” especially as ratepayers struggle during the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative impact on the national economy.

Midcontinent Independent Systems Operator, a non-profit organization tasked with monitoring vast swathes of the American energy grid by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, recently held its annual capacity auction which sets wholesale power prices for the coming year. MISO’s Zone 7, which includes nearly all of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, failed to meet the threshold of power generation that would classify Zone 7 as a “reliable” part of the national grid, resulting in a portion of wholesale power prices to lurch upward. 

The impact on Michigan residents is varied: those who receive their power from companies like Consumers Energy may see a decrease in rates if their provider sells excess generated electricity on the market. Michiganders who receive power from smaller, alternative providers will likely face rate increases. 


A milestone in the clean energy transition may arrive earlier than expected, with renewables overtaking coal as a leading source of electricity by the end of this year, according to a forecast by the Energy Information Administration released on Tuesday.

Catch up on other Great Lakes energy headlines:

Great Lakes Energy News Roundup: Shale gas and coal groundwater impact, coal ash pollution in Indiana, Ohio EPA OKs mine despite protests

In Minnesota, an innovative virtual approach to home energy inspections

As energy use changes in the Great Lakes, so too does the world’s largest freshwater port

Great Lakes Energy News Roundup: Toxic coal ash, utility company water withdrawal, Line 5

Featured image: Sherco Generating Station – Xcel Energy Sherburne County Coal-Fired Power Plant – Sunset. (Photo Tony Webster via Wikimedia)


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *