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Utilities Increasingly Pledging to Move Towards Cleaner Power Mix

On April 9, PV Magazine reported some potentially significant news coming out of the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Future Energy Summit. Southern Company CEO, Thomas A. Fanning announced that the company will transition to “low-to-no-carbon electricity sources by 2050.”

However, we don’t yet know to what degree Southern Company will end up moving towards solar and wind, as opposed to carbon capture for fossil fuel plants or new nuclear power reactors.

“We are transitioning the fleet,” announced Fanning. “The dominant solutions will be nuclear… there will be renewables.” Fanning also specifically mentioned the use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.

Meanwhile, regarding utilities moving towards a cleaner energy mix, there’s a lot of promising news across the country. A few examples include:

  • Xcel Energy, which Utility Dive reported last July expects wind “to be its single largest energy resource” by 2021. Why? Because, according to Xcel’s CEO Ben Fowke, wind power is beating fossil-generated power on cost – not down the road, but right now.  
  • Consumers Energy, which PV Magazine reported recently “wants to reduce its carbon emissions by 80% on the same time frame as it completely phases out coal and replacing it with renewable sources like wind and solar.”
  • DTE, which Power Magazine reported last year “wants to slash its carbon emissions by more than 80% from 2005 levels by 2050” by “substantially increas[ing] investments in renewables, transition[ing] its baseload capacity from coal to natural gas, and keep[ing] its Fermi 2 nuclear power station open.
  • First Energy, which “has set an aggressive goal of reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by at least 90 percent below 2005 levels by 2045, building on the 25 percent reduction in CO2 emissions already achieved across the company’s footprint.”
  • PPL, which according to Utility Dive “says it will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 70% from 2010 levels by 2050,” in large part by “slashing its coal fleet.”
  • AEP, which according to Power Magazine, “will pursue a strategy to reduce its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 60% from 2000 levels by 2030, and 80% from 2000 levels by 2050…through a variety of actions, including investments in renewable generation and advanced technologies and an increased use of natural gas generation,” as well as “invest[ing] heavily in transmission and distribution systems to enhance efficiency as well as in expanded demand response and energy efficiency programs.”
  • PSE, which has pledged “to reduce its carbon footprint 50% by 2040,” in large part by moving off of coal and moving towards renewables, demand response, energy efficiency and also natural gas.

And that’s without even mentioning states like Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, California, Arizona, New Mexico and many others which are making an aggressive transition to clean energy. Clearly, everyone’s figuring out that – as Chris Brown of Vestas recently wrote – “Market leaders and policy makers know a winner when they see one. The forecast for wind and America's clean energy future looks bright.”

Topics: Clean Economy