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DTE Energy weighs sale or spinoff of its non-utility units

Ed Hammond and Kiel Porter

DTE Energy Co. is considering unloading its natural gas pipelines and other non-utility operations, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Detroit-based company is working with advisers to evaluate selling or spinning off the operations, said the people, who asked to not be identified because the matter isn’t public. No final decisions have been made and DTE could elect to keep its current structure.

A representative for DTE told The Detroit News it is the company's policy to not comment on market speculation.

DTE Energy's headquarters in Detroit

DTE generates most of its profit from selling electricity in southeastern Michigan, including Detroit.

DTE shares climbed as high as 7.4% on the news on Thursday. The shares were up 6% to $121.36 at 2:40 p.m., giving the company a market value of about $23.3 billion.

DTE’s non-utility operations include gas pipelines, energy trading and energy development businesses, according to its most recent annual report. The divestiture would leave the Detroit-based company with an electric utility and gas distribution business.

It would also make DTE Energy the latest power company to retreat from energy pipelines after an aggressive expansion into the sector.

Several power companies that purchased natural gas infrastructure in search of growth have soured on the space. Investor and political pushback against fossil fuels is making it difficult to build new pipelines for expansion.

Dominion Energy Inc. agreed to sell almost all of its gas pipeline and storage assets in July to Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

The company in 2016 agreed to buy natural gas pipeline assets from M3 Midstream LLC and Vega Energy Partners Ltd. for $1.3 billion.