One of America’s biggest electricity generators, American Electric Power, has promised steep cuts in its carbon emissions by 2050, with plans to switch its power plants from coal to natural gas, get into renewables, especially solar, and educate clients about energy conservation.
“The company is announcing two targets,” the Columbus Dispatch reports. “First is that carbon levels in 2030 would be 60% less than they were in 2000, followed by the second goal, to reach the 80% reduction mark by 2050.”
Those targets are impressive, the Dispatch notes, given that AEP “was the top carbon emitter in the power sector in 2015,” according to industry analysts M.J. Bradley & Associates.
“The energy industry is in an era of transformation, moving rapidly toward a cleaner energy economy,” wrote AEP President and CEO Nick Akins, in an introduction to the report.
Environmentalists welcomed AEP’s announcement, albeit cautiously. “The decision to shift their portfolio away from coal is the correct choice for AEP to make, and for that, they should be commended,” said Trish Demeter, vice president of energy policy for the Ohio Environmental Council.”
“While we don’t agree with AEP’s continued pursuit of policies that amount to bailouts of outdated coal plants, the goals and strategies laid out in this new report are encouraging,” agreed Dan Sawmiller, Ohio Energy Policy Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The AEP reductions have been in the works for a few years, the Dispatch notes. “A combination of market factors and regulations have made coal more expensive than other fuels, leading AEP and other power generators to cut their use of the fuel and make plans for further reductions.” Those reductions have “hurt the parts of eastern Ohio that have active coal mines,” the paper adds, prompting Atkins to assert that “while coal is a smaller proportion of our resource mix than in the past, it remains important to the reliability and resiliency of the grid.”