River Rouge Power Plant

From Global Energy Monitor

River Rouge Power Plant was a 358.1-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station operated by DTE Electric near River Rouge, Michigan. The plant's last unit closed on May 31, 2021.[1]


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Plant Data

  • Owner: DTE Electric Company
  • Parent Company: DTE Energy
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 650.6 MW (Megawatts)
  • Units and In-Service Dates: Unit 2: 292.5 MW (1957), Unit 3: 358.1 MW (1958)
  • Location: 1 Belanger Park Rd., River Rouge, MI 48218
  • GPS Coordinates: 42.270523, -83.124699
  • Technology: Subcritical
  • Coal type: Sub-Bituminous
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source: Antelope Coal Mine (Navajo Nation), Black Thunder Mine (Arch Coal), North Antelope Rochelle Mine (Peabody Energy)[2]
  • Number of Employees:
  • Unit Retirements: Unit 2 retired in 2016, Unit 3 was retired on May 31, 2021.[3]

Unit Retirements

The plant has two coal-fired units. Unit 2 was retired in July 2016.[4] Unit 3 was retired on May 31, 2021.[3]

Pollution Controls

The plant lacks modern pollution controls, and is located in an area of Michigan that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated as “failing to meet federal air quality standards” for sulfur dioxide. In January 2016, hundreds of community members, political leaders, and clean air advocates flooded a series of hearings calling for a plan to lower sulfur dioxide levels in the area. In May 2016 the state submitted a plan to EPA for review. Under the plan the River Rouge Power Plant is required to permanently shut down one of its two coal-fired boilers by the end of the year. The full plant was retired in 2021.[5][6]

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 3,094,070 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 13,307 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 3,967 tons
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 120 lb.

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from River Rouge Power Plant

In 2010, Abt Associates issued a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, quantifying the deaths and other health effects attributable to fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants.[7] Fine particle pollution consists of a complex mixture of soot, heavy metals, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. Among these particles, the most dangerous are those less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which are so tiny that they can evade the lung's natural defenses, enter the bloodstream, and be transported to vital organs. Impacts are especially severe among the elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease. The study found that over 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of cases of chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, asthma, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, and pneumonia each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. coal plant emissions. These deaths and illnesses are major examples of coal's external costs, i.e. uncompensated harms inflicted upon the public at large. Low-income and minority populations are disproportionately impacted as well, due to the tendency of companies to avoid locating power plants upwind of affluent communities. To monetize the health impact of fine particle pollution from each coal plant, Abt assigned a value of $7,300,000 to each 2010 mortality, based on a range of government and private studies. Valuations of illnesses ranged from $52 for an asthma episode to $440,000 for a case of chronic bronchitis.[8]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from River Rouge Power Plant

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 44 $320,000,000
Heart attacks 72 $7,800,000
Asthma attacks 700 $36,000
Hospital admissions 33 $770,000
Chronic bronchitis 26 $12,000,000
Asthma ER visits 38 $14,000

Source: "Find Your Risk from Power Plant Pollution," Clean Air Task Force interactive table, accessed February 2011

Citizen activism

NAACP Clearing the Air Road Tour

Yvonne White of NAACP speaks about River Rouge Power Plant.

In April 2010, Jacqui Patterson of the NAACP Climate Justice interviewed community members in River Rouge. Jacqui wrote the following account of the impacts of the River Rouge Power Plant:[9]

The River Rouge Power Plant located in the River Rouge Community of Southwest Detroit, Michigan, is surrounded by low income communities, primarily comprised of people of color, specifically African American and Latino. The plant is a mere two blocks from the start of one neighborhood and there is a park where people bring their families barbecue, and catch fish, a mere 500 feet from the smokestacks. Ms. Yvonne White, President of the Michigan State Conference of NAACP speaks about the power plant and the surrounding area.

2011 Report: River Rouge top environmental justice offender

The 2011 report, "Coal Blooded: Putting Profits Before People in Illinois" by Adrian Wilson, NAACP, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO), and the Indigenous Environmental Network used an algorithm combining levels of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions together with demographic factors in order to calculate an environmental justice score for the 431 coal-fired power plants in the U.S. Twelve plants were ranked the top environmental justice offenders, producing a total of 48,582 Gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity in 2005 — only 1.2% of total U.S. electricity production, yet affecting a total of 1.78 million Americans who live within 3 miles of one of the 12 plants, with an average per capita income of $14,626 (compared with the U.S. average of $21,587), and 76.3% people of color.

The plants were:

  1. Crawford Generating Station, Chicago, IL (Edison International)
  2. Hudson Generating Station, Jersey City, NJ (PSEG)
  3. Fisk Generating Station, Chicago, IL (Edison International)
  4. Valley Power Plant, Milwaukee, WI (Wisconsin Energy)
  5. State Line Plant, Hammond, IN (Dominion)
  6. Lake Shore Plant, Cleveland, OH (FirstEnergy)
  7. Gallagher Generating Station, New Albany, IN (Duke Energy)
  8. Bridgeport Harbor Station, Bridgeport, CT (PSEG)
  9. River Rouge Power Plant, River Rouge, MI (DTE Energy)
  10. Cherokee Station, Commerce City, CO (Xcel Energy)
  11. Four Corners Steam Plant, Niinahnízaad, NM (Arizona Public Service Company)
  12. Waukegan Generating Station, Waukegan, IL (Edison International)

Articles and Resources


  1. DTE Energy. "DTE Energy Retires "Small but Mighty" River Rouge Power Plant". GlobeNewswire News Room. Retrieved 2021-06-08.
  2. "EIA 923 2019" EIA 923 2019.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Detroit utility closes 50s-era River Rouge coal-fired plant | Power Engineering". Power Engineering. 2021-06-07. Retrieved 2021-06-08.
  4. "EIA 860m July 2020" EIA.gov, 860m database, accessed October 25, 2020.
  5. "DTE Announces Plans to Retire River Rouge, Trenton Channel, and St. Clair Coal-Fired Power Plants," Sierra Club, June 8, 2016
  6. "DTE Plans To Shut Down 8 Coal-Fired Units At 3 Plants," CBS Detroit, June 8, 2016
  7. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  8. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
  9. Jacqui Patterson, "Day III Clearing the Air Road Tour — River Rouge, MI — River Rouge Power Plant," NAACP Climate Justice Initiative, April 21, 2010.

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