To build a healthier, more resilient community we must stop burning fossil fuels and invest in clean energy. As the cost of solar, wind and battery storage rapidly decline, building new renewables is now less expensive than running existing coal plants and, in 2019, created three times more jobs. The resulting health benefits of cleaner air would be substantial .
At their recent shareholder meeting WEC Energy Group executives emphasized goals for a low-carbon future, repeating their target of reducing carbon dioxide emission by 80% by 2050. In comparison, Xcel Energy plans to be 80% renewable by 2030 and 100% by 2050. According to the Smart Electric Power Alliance, 21 utilities have a goal of carbon-free emissions by 2050. WEC currently generates a mere 7% of its energy from renewables, roughly a third of what other Wisconsin utilities like Alliant and Excel currently produce.
Recently, Alliant announced the retirement of the Edgewater Generating Station, a coal-burning plant near Sheboygan. The company estimates this early retirement will save its customers hundreds of millions of dollars in long term costs. Such savings could be realized by retiring the dirty South Oak Creek plant.
David de Leon, president of Alliant’s Wisconsin operations stated, “We are focusing on lowering costs, creating environmental benefits, meeting customer demand and being a good partner with the communities we serve.” If We Energies can’t lead the transition to renewable energy, they should at least follow the lead of more responsive, more responsible companies like Alliant.