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Consumers Energy announces plans for reduced carbon emissions and zero coal

Solar panels
Michael Mazengarb

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% and use zero coal by 2040. The company also plans to have more than 40% 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%.

“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, which is one of Michigan Radio's corporate sponsors, 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% over the next five years.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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