February 8, 2018 Read More →

Midwestern Mega-Utility, Acknowledging ‘Era of Transformation,’ Announces Clean-Energy Shift

Columbus Dispatch:

American Electric Power is announcing targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from its power plants, with an ultimate goal of cutting those levels, by 2050, to 80 percent less than they were in 2000.

The Columbus-based utility says it is planning to reach the goal by following through on plans to increase use of renewable energy, helping customers find ways to better manage energy use, and replacing old coal-fired power plants with ones that run on natural gas.

“The energy industry is in an era of transformation, moving rapidly toward a cleaner energy economy,” said Nick Akins, AEP’s chairman, president and CEO, in an introduction to the report.

The company is announcing two targets. First is that carbon levels in 2030 would be 60 percent less than they were in 2000, followed by the second goal, to reach the 80 percent reduction mark by 2050.

Most of the projects involved in reaching the goals, including plans to build several large solar arrays in Ohio, were already known.

Advocates say AEP’s announcement is significant because of the company’s history of relying on coal as a fuel for power plants.

“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, in an email.

At the same time, environmental groups say AEP still has harmful positions on other issues, such as the company’s ongoing push to have lawmakers approve profit guarantees for Ohio Valley Electric Corp., a company AEP co-owns that has two coal-fired power plants.

“While we don’t agree with AEP’s continued pursuit of policies that amount to bailouts of outdated coal plants, the goals and strategies laid out in this new report are encouraging,” said Dan Sawmiller, Ohio energy policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, in an email.

He pointed to AEP proposals to build solar arrays in Ohio as an example of a plan that is good for the environment and the economy.

More: AEP details plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions

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