The Dirty Truth About Utility Climate Pledges

There are three key things utilities must do to avoid catastrophic global warming: They must retire existing coal plants by 2030, terminate plans to build new gas plants, and build clean energy much faster. This report, examined utilities’ performance on each of these three necessary actions. This analysis is based on integrated resource plans (IRPs) and major announcements for the 50 utilities that remain the most invested in fossil fuel generation. Evergy is one the companies included in this study. Overall, the study examined plans for 79 operating companies owned by 50 different parent companies.

Apart from a few leaders, these companies are falling short on all three of these necessary actions. The companies studied account for 68 percent of remaining coal generation. They have committed to retire just 25 percent of their coal generation by 2030. Thirty-two of the operating companies included in this study are planning to build new gas plants through 2030. That is over 40 percent of the total gas plants slated to be built across the US through 2030. The companies studied plan to add 250 million MWh of new wind and solar energy to the grid between 2020 and 2030. This is equivalent to only 19 percent of their current coal and gas generation and is therefore wholly inadequate to bring about a swift transition to a zero-carbon grid. To maintain a livable planet and put us on a pathway consistent with a 1.5°C future, US utilities need to phase out coal and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 percent by 2030. While electric utilities have pledged to decarbonize, they fall far short of what is necessary to protect people and the planet.

Romankiewicz, John, Cara Bottorff, Leah C. Stokes. Sierra Club. January 2020.

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