July 17, 2024 Donate

Community, Saline, Saline Government

DTE Energy’s Program Offers Sustainability (and Trees) to Saline

There is a new opportunity for folks in Washtenaw County to help the environment while also sprucing up Saline. At the June 17th Saline City Council meeting, Molly Luempert-Coy from DTE Energy shared information about the company’s Natural Gas Balance Program. The voluntary program is designed to help customers offset the carbon emissions from their natural gas usage. 

DTE Energy explained the program in a statement to STN, “DTE Energy is encouraging Washtenaw County residents to enroll in Natural Gas Balance, which supports the development of Michigan-made renewable natural gas and protects forests in the Upper Peninsula. If more than 100 customers enroll in the program by July 31, DTE will plant 10 trees along city streets in Saline later this year. This is a great opportunity to balance your carbon footprint while helping plant trees in Washtenaw County! Learn more about the promotion here and enroll now.”

The effort is a key part of DTE’s CleanVision commitment to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050 so they are offering incentives to communities with high rates of enrollment. Said Luempert-Coy, “We’ve had a really great participation rate in Washtenaw County and this particular area seems very open to wanting to do things for carbon offset and sustainability goals.” 

“The City of Saline is pleased to be working with DTE to deliver clean energy solutions for its residents,” said Saline Mayor Brain Marl. “We hope the program is successful enough to allow us to add new trees to continue to meet our environmental goals locally as well.” 

The program allows DTE customers the option to balance some or all of their carbon emissions through a small fee added to their monthly utility bill. The fees range between $4 and $16 and are based on what percentage of emissions the customer chooses to balance. Those fees then fund the activities behind two key DTE sustainability efforts: carbon offsets and Renewable Natural Gas (RNG). 

What are Carbon Offsets and Renewable Natural Gas (RNG)?
Healthy forests ‘absorb’ CO2, serving as nature’s “scrubbers.” To preserve and sustain that process, DTE Energy invests in Improved Forest Management (IFM) projects that “ensure Michigan’s forests aren’t over-harvested by commercial loggers.” This keeps forests healthy and able to soak up carbon dioxide. The offsets all come from Michigan forest projects spanning thirteen counties in the UP, including areas near Pictured Rocks.

RNG is created by capturing the naturally occurring methane generated by landfills and wastewater treatment plants. That methane, which would otherwise be released into the atmosphere, is instead processed into pipeline-quality gas. Using RNG not only prevents methane from polluting the air but it also reduces the need for traditional natural gas. DTE procures RNG from various producers, including a landfill in Canton and a wastewater treatment facility in Grand Rapids.

Saline and surrounding Washtenaw County communities have an opportunity to come together here to make a difference. Whether a homeowner or business owner, joining the Natural Gas Balance Program is an easy and affordable way to contribute to a cleaner, greener future. And who knows? With enough participation, we might soon see new trees lining our streets, adding to Saline’s charm and beauty.

DTE Energy representative Molly Luempert-Coy presents to the Saline City Council on Monday June 17th, 2024. Photo courtesy City of Saline.