A major electric utility company aims to accomplish a lofty goal in the near future — swearing off of fossil fuels for good.
Xcel Energy — the 9th largest utility company in the United States — has set a goal to be 100 percent free of carbon emissions by the year 2050.
“Our biggest energy source in a few short years is going to be renewable energy. We’re going to absolutely integrate as much of that as we can into the grid,” said Ben Fowke — chairman and CEO of Xcel Energy, which has a reach of nine states across the upper Midwest and Rocky Mountains.
Among those excited for the change include newly elected Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D) who called for a promise of 100 percent renewable energy for the state during his campaign.
— Grace Hood (@gracehood) December 4, 2018
This announcement comes on the heels of numerous energy companies making similar promises to reduce their reliance on carbon-based fossil fuels. Indiana-based NIPSCO is starting to favor renewable energy so much that the company is retiring coal plants ahead of schedule, while Midwestern Utility MidAmerican plans to be ran on 100 percent renewable energy by 2020.
The U.S. Energy Information Association recently announced that coal consumption in 2018 will be at a 39-year low and that the economic climate is shifting away from fossil fuels and towards solar and wind energy. According to the press release, the electric power sector is the nation’s largest consumer of coal, using 93 percent of the total coal supply in the last decade. However, 2018 is set to be the second-biggest year for coal retirements in history, leaving natural gas as the cheaper fossil fuel for the power sector.
The EIA also projects coal usage will decrease by 4 percent in 2018 and by 8 percent in 2019. Other reasons cited for an increase in renewable energy and a decrease in coal usage are the environmental issues caused by the extraction of coal, and the regulations put in place by the Obama administration to curtail those pollutants.
Xcel Energy’s transition to 100 percent renewables by 2050 comes on the heels of a damning climate change report from the Trump administration, which found that climate change stands to not only kill thousands of people and displace millions with rising sea levels, but also devastate the economy to the tune of more than 10 percent of GDP.
Brandon Howard is a Grit Post contributor, auto worker, and former public radio reporter based out of Lexington, Kentucky. Follow him on Twitter @mrpowerhoward.