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Consumers Energy announces plans for reduced carbon emissions and zero coal

Consumers Energy plans to become more environmentally friendly – while keeping customer bills stable.

The company rolled out its “Clean Energy Breakthrough Goal” Monday. It plans to reduce its carbon emissions by 80 percent and use zero coal by 2040. The company also plans to have more than 40 percent of its energy come from renewable sources and energy storage by that same deadline.

“In the past, people believed that we had to choose between affordable and clean energy,” said Consumers Energy CEO Patti Poppe. “We don’t subscribe to that sucker’s choice.”

The idea is to create a cleaner, more sustainable energy future. But is 2040 too far into the future? The Paris Climate agreement calls for nations to scale back their emissions by 2020, and then reevaluate their emission goals every five years.

Poppe said they’ve already made progress – including reducing carbon emissions by 38 percent.

“Consider it phase two of our clean and lean generation strategy,” she said. “Phase one is well under way.”          

A spokesperson for the Michigan Environmental Council said their organization looks forward to working with Consumers to meet their goals and to see if they can get there even faster.

Consumers also announced that it plans to close all five of its remaining coal plants over the next couple decades. Poppe said they plan to help employees get reskilled and ready for other employment. Poppe also said they want to make sure they don’t leave empty plants behind.

“We’re not gonna leave hulking examples of old plants that are no longer in operation,” she said. “We’re going to take those plants down, redeploy those locations and redevelop them for the benefit of the communities.”

Among its other goals, Consumers Energy wants to save 1 billion gallons of water and reduce waste to landfills by 35 percent over the next five years.