DTE Energy Shareholders Call for More Clean Energy, Transparency at Annual Meeting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

News from Clean Energy Now

May 7, 2015

Contact: Marissa Luna, 989-798-3051, marissa@engagemichigan.org

DTE Energy Shareholders Call for More Clean Energy, Transparency at Annual Meeting

Time to curb harmful emissions, unaccounted political spending

ANN ARBOR – Today, DTE Energy held its 2015 Annual Meeting of Common Stock Shareholders to discuss the utility’s future energy plans. Several DTE shareholders called on the utility to change direction; invest far more in clean, renewable energy, like wind and solar; and be much more transparent about its heavy spending in Michigan politics.

“DTE’s coal plants are long past their lifespan and need to be retired,” said Eric Keller, DTE shareholder. “With the right planning – reducing energy waste by improving energy efficiency and pushing the utility to invest more in wind and solar by increasing the state’s renewable energy standard – DTE can continue to make meaningful improvements while maintaining rates and profits.”

DTE coal plants are responsible for at least 85 percent of all sulfur dioxide pollution in Wayne County. Sulfur dioxide pollution from coal-burning power plants is responsible for many asthma attacks, heart attacks, lost workdays, school absences and premature deaths every year. The Michigan Department of Community Health has deemed this area the “Epicenter of Asthma Burden,” due to the health consequences that local families face.

“DTE Energy must prioritize cleaning up pollution and protecting public health by retiring their coal plants and investing more in renewable energy like wind and solar,” said Nick Schroeck, DTE shareholder. “For decades, communities in Detroit and surrounding areas have been suffering the effects, from asthma to cancer, of DTE’s rampant pollution. It’s past time for them to clean up their act.”

Another big item on the agenda for this year’s shareholder meeting is disclosure. Currently, DTE Energy’s disclosure policy does not provide a clear picture of how the company makes political expenditures. It does not disclose its contributions to candidates, parties, and committees, or itemized payments to trade associations and other tax-exempt groups.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, in 2014 there were 13 lobbyists working for DTE. The utility’s total lobbying budget in Michigan in 2014 was $1.3 million. DTE’s campaign and other contributions have come as legislators weigh decisions that could benefit the companies’ bottom lines, such as whether or not to increase Michigan’s 10 percent renewable energy standard that utilities are on track to meet at the end of 2015.

“Our elected leaders are preparing to make fundamental choices over whether they’ll keep our Great Lakes, our air and our drinking water clean, or side with corporate polluters who are sacrificing our planet for short-term profit. We have no idea if or how DTE is attempting to influence those decisions,” said Isha Naidu, DTE ratepayer from West Bloomfield. “DTE must increase their transparency. We have a right to know much more about the company’s multi-million-dollar lobbying efforts and what they are trying to accomplish.”

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Clean Energy Now is a coalition of groups that supports policies that will move Michigan beyond coal power and toward greater use of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency as a way to protect the environment and build prosperity. Follow the campaign at CleanEnergyNowMI.org.

Posted in Press Release

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