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Sometimes it's hard to see that progress is taking place, but when it comes to getting electricity from coal, progress is indeed happening and the pace is accelerating.

Clean Power

Michigan Utility Head Acknowledges That Climate Science Is Real

Sometimes it’s hard to see that progress is taking place, but when it comes to getting electricity from coal, progress is indeed happening and the pace is accelerating.

coal mineLike many utility companies in America’s heartland, Consumers Energy used to get much of its electricity from burning coal. But in 2016, it shuttered 7 of its 12 coal-fired generating stations and plans to close all of them by 2040. Its goal is to reduce its carbon emissions by 80% by that time in an effort to “be on the right side of history on this issue.” It expects renewables such as wind and solar to provide 40% of its electricity by then.

Yes, that means natural gas will be a big part of the company’s energy mix going forward, but its plans for the future are based on the best information available today. Prices for renewables continue to fall while natural gas prices — low by traditional standards today — could rise significantly over the next two decades for any number of reasons. Poppe acknowledged in her statement what research firm Lazard found to be true in a study completed last fall — the cost of building new renewable installations is now less than the cost of operating existing coal and nuclear plants.

Trump on skatesNearly a year ago, Michigan’s other major utility company — DTE Energy — announced it would close all of its existing coal fired facilities by 2040 and reduce its carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. At the time, it cited both economic and environment reasons for its decision. The Abominable Trumpman has been skating on thin ice with his plan to end what he claims is a war on coal begun by Obama, but the reality is that coal is simply no longer economically viable.

Some readers might wish for utility companies like Consumers Energy to transition to renewables faster, and it’s true it would be wonderful if that happened, but every step forward is a victory over fossil fuels that deserves to be celebrated. And for a utility company executive to state publicly that climate science is real is hugely important. Think Progress reports that one coal powered generating facility has been taken out of service every 16 days since our #FakePresident was elected. Not only that, in the first 6 weeks of this year, more plans to close coal-fired facilities have been announced than in Barack Obama’s entire first term.

Sometimes it’s hard to see that progress is taking place, but when it comes to no longer getting electricity from coal, progress is indeed happening and the pace is accelerating.

 
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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.

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