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Posted on Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

DTE Energy CEO on his commitment to Ann Arbor and cleaning up the MichCon site

By Ryan J. Stanton


Ann Arbor resident Gerry Anderson, chief executive officer of DTE Energy, makes an appearance at a news conference on Mackinac Island this week during the Mackinac Policy Conference.

Ryan J. Stanton |

MACKINAC ISLAND — Gerry Anderson, president and chief executive officer of Detroit-based DTE Energy, says his company's commitment to Ann Arbor runs deep.

So deep, in fact, that DTE is undertaking a major cleanup of one of its properties along the Huron River in hopes that it might become a new riverfront park for the city.

Anderson, who lives in Ann Arbor and takes regular walks along the riverfront, talked about the role corporations play in the vitality of their communities during a panel discussion on Wednesday as part of the Detroit Regional Chamber's annual Mackinac Policy Conference.

Anderson has been in talks with Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje on how DTE can help transform the polluted MichCon site on the Huron River into a city park.

Beyond that, DTE is making major investments in Ann Arbor, where it continues to quietly expand its non-utility operations.

Michael Finney, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., touted DTE as a good example of corporate citizenship while on Mackinac Island this week.

He pointed out DTE and Consumers Energy were two of the original four partners in the state's Pure Michigan Business Connect program.


Michael Finney speaks during a news conference on Mackinac Island this week.

Ryan J. Stanton |

"Consumers Energy committed $250 million of new spending with Michigan-based companies and DTE did exactly the same thing," Finney said.

"What's really wonderful about the commitment we got from the utility companies is that they are both on target to exceed the commitments they've made. My understanding is DTE and Consumers have already exceeded $200 million of new Michigan spending in about one year."

They were expecting to meet their $250 million commitments in five years, Finney said, so they're going above and beyond expectations.

Anderson took a break during the conference to chat with about how he views DTE's role as a corporate citizen and its commitment to Ann Arbor.

Anderson is co-chairing the Detroit Regional Prosperity Campaign, an initiative announced this week to raise a minimum of $2 million annually in private sector funding to market Southeast Michigan to economic development and investment prospects. Continuing the conference's theme of corporate investment in communities, what can you tell me about what DTE is doing in Ann Arbor?

Anderson: What a lot of people don't know about DTE Energy is about 25 percent of our company now is outside of the two utilities and those businesses are headquartered in Ann Arbor. So if you go down to Main and William, that nine-story tower there is the headquarters to what we call our non-utility operations and we are operational in 24 states and employ about 1,000 people — not all in Ann Arbor, but many of them are in Michigan.

We started that in Ann Arbor back in the mid-90s and grew it from nothing to what's now probably a couple billion dollars of valuation, so kind of quietly we had our own entrepreneurship effort at DTE to expand beyond our utility services. We came to Ann Arbor because it's such a good place to attract talent and we draw people from around the country to be part of these businesses. And people want to come work where they want to live, and Ann Arbor is an easy place for us to draw that sort of talent.

It's a chance for us as a Michigan-headquartered company, with our headquarters for this part of the operation in Ann Arbor, to expand to the rest of the country, and then pull the benefits of that expansion back into the state, so I'd say that's probably the most fundamental investment that the company has made is the growth of that line of four businesses over the past decade.

We've got a renewable business headquartered there in Ann Arbor, we have an industrial energy services business, we have a natural gas pipeline development operation roughly from Chicago to New England, and then we have a trading company that goes head to head with other trading companies around the country and does very, very well. The MichCon site along the Huron River in Ann Arbor, which DTE is working to clean up, has gotten a lot of attention lately. The city has hopes of a portion of it becoming a new riverfront city park. What commitments has DTE made there?

Anderson: I've been working with John Hieftje and a number of other leaders on the vision for that. Interestingly, when I moved into my home, there was a parcel attached to the Arboretum called Dow Field, a beautiful field. I walked through it for years almost every day thinking it was a gift from the Dow Chemical Co. It turns out it was a gift from Detroit Edison, our predecessor, in honor of the death of the Detroit Edison CEO at the time, Alex Dow. Unbeknownst to me I was walking through a gift from my predecessor and it's a beautiful community asset.

I began to look at the former MichCon site and realized that it's a prime piece of waterfront property. It's a place that the city could front the river. We don't have many good places where you really could get a restaurant or activity like that right there on the water. So we've been working and fundamentally I came to the realization that the right use for this property is not one of our service centers. It's something different, and we're going to transition that to a multi-use property that would include natural space, that would work well with the whitewater developments that are under way there. And in addition, there would be a portion of that with details still to be determined that would include things like a restaurant and perhaps some retail that would face right down to the water itself. So basically everything city officials have talked about and hoped for with the MichCon site, you're on board with?

Anderson: We are working with them to make that happen, yes. What else can you tell me about DTE's commitment to investing in communities in terms of capital investment and renewable energy?

Anderson: We invest capital of $2 billion a year. It makes us the largest investor of capital in the state because we are so concentrated in Michigan, and most of that is environmentally driven at this point. We've got a big investment in renewables under way. We're $2 billion into an ultimate $3 billion investment to get to 10 percent by 2015. Another one is emission controls. Most people don't realize but emissions are now down to just a fraction of what they were a couple decades ago, but that comes with a lot of investment as well. It gives us a chance to play out this connection to Michigan suppliers, which has been a real positive for the company. A lot of that investment is being directed to suppliers based in Michigan. And a lot of this investment in renewables is in wind energy?

Anderson: The vast majority is wind. That's by far our most economic renewable resource. It's about a third of the cost of solar right now in Michigan, so that's the place to invest. Are we ever going to see wind farms in Washtenaw County or is that just not the place for it?

Anderson: It's not the place. It's farther north. But really the prime property now is up in the Thumb. We're getting very good results up there in terms of what they call capacity factor, what percent of the time does it spin. And we're up in the 40s now, which means 40 to 45 percent of the time. That's a great result, so that's the place.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 3:05 p.m.

check out DTE Smart meter work and all the comments !health risk? $ 84 million from Washington thanks to Senator Stabwow.

Stan Hyne

Sun, Jun 3, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.

Most of that pollution was from a previous owner many years ago in a coal to oil conversion operation.

Larry Baird

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 7:37 p.m.

The city claims the contaminated Michcon site is a barrier to expanding the Amtrak station, yet at the same time is talking to Mr. Anderson about converting the site to "multi-use" development. All the adjacent property owners and taxpayers will lose if the Amtrak station is moved. The current site offers a "walkable" environment to many city destinations whereas the campus location only offers a short walk to the hospital. The hospital is the last place most out of town visitors wish to visit. If DTE wants to be viewed in a more environmental friendly way, they should help find a way to recycle and/or reuse the existing Amtrak station and incorporate it into their vision for this site.

Jay Thomas

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 7:15 p.m.

I've been waiting for the cleanup for a long time. The issue of keeping the dam or removing it was rendered meaningless without work on that area.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 3:48 p.m.

EMISSION is DOWN in Michigan and So are JOBS..........clean air thanks to the closing of facturies! Windfarms in Michigan August 26,20119The detroit News0 DTE Energy Co. state approval of $ 485 million -20 years to buy from TUSOla bay wind LLC. in saginaw county. Metro news Sunday, feb 17,2002 Modern windmills CLEAR AIR. Rich Vander Veen bay wind-powers turbines in 61 counties ..etcetc !!!!


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 3:37 p.m.

Why the "WAIT"? place have to be clean and save ALl the TIME! IS DTE making "ROOM" for the replaced "SMART METERS" ? A new dumping ground ?


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 3:35 p.m.

He earned a degree in mechanical engineering at Cornell University in 1922. . .

Dog Guy

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 2:30 p.m.

Walker Cisler was a fine engineer and wore a tie.

Homeland Conspiracy

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 2:07 p.m.

DTE does NOTHING for free...


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 12:35 p.m.

The aforementioned DTE site is a beautiful looking riverfront property. Its pollution has made it unsafe and unusable. DTE is remediating some of the pollution onsite. This is wonderful news. Thank you DTE. However, in a recent presentation to a2 planning commission, a DTE representative stated that DTE would perform remediation only to restore the property to acceptable industrial-level use. DTE states that remediation to industrial-level use is costly, and that remediation beyond industrial-level use is cost prohibitive. Industrial-level remediation does NOT result in soils that are fit for human skin contact. In other words, costly and substantial remediation work will be required beyond DTE's remediation, before any city resident spreads a picnic blanket on that site. Remediation beyond industrial-level use, say to parkland, will be paid for by the next titleholder.

Silly Sally

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 12:51 p.m.

keep it as a parking lot for Amtrak


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 12:24 p.m.

How about fixing all the gas leaks in your system and improve overall operations?


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 12:23 p.m.

Any funds, grants from the utility sector only means that DTE can show the increase costs of operations and be able to justify the added expenditures and increase your utility bills with the approval of regulators. Nothing is free.

Silly Sally

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 12:10 p.m.

How about a "gift" of a nice parking lot for the Amtrak station so the silly mayor will leave other park land alone and leave my tax-paying pocket book alone and not attempt to build another expensive NEW railroad station on nearby virgin parkland near the hospital? The present Amtrak station needs a lot more parking, and it is perfectly located next door, yet a bad owner (DTE) will only allow this lot to be rented out to RV owners during Art Fair week and football games. It doesn't need to be the entire location, just the 50 to 70 feet portion that is runs along the RR tracks.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 5:04 p.m.

"virgin parkland"? what's that supposed to mean? The "parkland" in question is a parking lot!

Les Gov

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 11:06 a.m.

"Gerry Anderson, president and chief executive officer of Detroit-based DTE Energy, says his company's commitment to Ann Arbor runs deep. So deep, in fact, that DTE is undertaking a major cleanup of one of its properties " That isn't a commitment! That is a minimum expectation of any property owner. Anderson himself calls the site polluted. So now he does what should have been done years ago and he tries to come off as some hero?....

Kent Jocque

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

You go, Ryan! Nice response. -Kent

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 12:14 p.m.

You cut off the rest of the sentence. Read on. DTE is doing a little more at the site than just cleaning it up. It's paying for new whitewater features for kayakers and working with the city to eventually have it be a city park. That's beyond minimum expectation. Here's a previous story on DTE agreeing to pay for the whitewater features, which is expected to save the city $163,636 (part of those savings recently paid for constructing an improved entrance to the Argo headrace, including a new pedestrian foot bridge).

Alan Goldsmith

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 10:33 a.m.

"I've been working John Hieftje...". Oh I'm SURE you have been 'working' him. Freudian slip?

Alan Goldsmith

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 2:20 p.m.

The former is probably the reality...but thanks for correcting the actual quote.

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 12:19 p.m.

That should read "working with John Hieftje." Thanks.