Earley, speaking at the utility's annual meeting at its downtown headquarters recently, reported that DTE netted $95 million in annual cost savings in 2006. Some of the savings comes from the sale of unprofitable assets, such as some natural gas power plants, and the elimination of 900 jobs. About 700 workers left the company last year, and 200 jobs will go unfilled.
"We are continuing this improvement effort and expect total annual savings of $250 million to $350 million by 2008," he said. "These savings will reduce operating costs, capital expenses and fuel costs."
Additional cost-cutting and staff reductions will take place in 2007 at the company, which employs about 10,000, but both numbers will be less than last year, Earley said.
Shareholders also were updated on the progress of DTE's application to add a second nuclear reactor at the site of its Fermi 2 plant near Monroe. Earley said the reactor is needed to meet expected growth in Michigan's energy demand but said it won't become a reality if regulators and lawmakers don't change electric choice rules in the state.
Electric choice allows customers, predominately large businesses, to buy power from entities other than DTE. While the amount of such power bought in Michigan is falling, the uncertainty it creates makes it difficult for DTE and their financiers to commit to a nuclear plant, the company maintains.