Michigan Utility Commits to Carbon Neutrality by 2040

February 24, 2020

Consumers Energy and its CEO Patti Poppe were the subject of a recent “This is Not Cool” video (above).
I’ve told people that what we see happening is technology and economics pushing major power generators in an ever more urgent push toward renewables and sustainability.

This bar is going to continue to be raised.

Michigan Radio:

One of the nation’s largest electric utilities says it will reach net zero carbon emissions by the year 2040. 

It’s the most ambitious goal yet for a U.S. electricity company. Five electric utilities, including DTE Energy, have committed to reaching net zero by 2050.

Net zero carbon emissions means a combination of eliminating and offsetting carbon dioxide emissions to achieve zero carbon emissions attributable to the company.

Consumers Energy plans to close its last coal plant by 2040, and its latest long-term Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) says it will make large investments in solar energy and especially, energy efficiency.

The IRP gets the utility to an 80% reduction in emissions, but the last 20% will likely be much harder to achieve.

CEO Patti Poppe acknowledged the committment is a stretch but she’s confident it’s possible.

I like to show the video below to audiences skeptical that a major industrial state like Michigan can run itself on renewable energy. Poppe describes her secret weapon – one of the world’s largest pump storage facilities.

Michigan Radio again:

“Every great achievement has started with a goal,” said Poppe. “Someobody stating something that isn’t true today that will be true in the future.”

Poppe said the utility’s offsets could include capturing methane emissions from landfills, and planting trees: millions of them. Trees remove CO2 from the air.

But the plan will also likely require the utilization of technologies that are in their infancy and currently cost prohibitive, like carbon capture. That technology involves capturing CO2 from a gas plant, before it is released into the atmosphere, and permanently storing it in either liquid or solid form.

Poppe said she also sees a big role for energy storage.  

“Storage technologies that enable a higher dispatch of our renewables might reduce some of the need for fossil fuels to even be in the mix at all,” she said.

Poppe said reaching the goal will also require the participation of Consumers Energy customers in reducing their energy use. 

Environmental groups reacted positively to the announcement. 

Kate Madigan is director of the Michigan Climate Action Network. “We appreciate Consumers Energy’s vision to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040,” Madigan said in a statement. “Climate change affects virtually every aspect of our lives, including our health, economy and Great Lakes, and a rapid and just transition to clean energy is critical to avoid the worsening impacts of our overheating climate.” 

The net zero goal does not include the utility’s gas business, although Consumers Energy also previously unveiled a plan to reduce emissions from its gas business. 

The most recent vid covered the shifting ground among investors and major corporations moving toward sustainability.

3 Responses to “Michigan Utility Commits to Carbon Neutrality by 2040”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    By 2040? That’s 20 years away. Look at what’s happened over the past twenty years and how the outpouring of bad news has accelerated greatly over the past five years—-this falls under the heading of “Every little bit helps (to delude and distract the public and delay action) no matter how small (and how much more it will cost if and when we ever get serious).

    • Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

      So true, so sad. Still will applaud any little bit that helps within your stated constraints. Resident boy cat is giving me a hug, must have realized I need one.

  2. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    At the moment I’m stuck on how much residential gas infrastructure is holding back individual consumption. All the gas home heaters, water heaters, and stoves in millions of houses across the country represent personal expenses on the part of homeowners and landlords.

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