Consumers Energy to stop burning coal by 2040

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Consumers Energy will phase out electricity production from coal by 2040. | Tom Hawley/The Monroe News via AP

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Consumers Energy will phase out electricity production from coal by 2040 to slash emissions of heat-trapping gases that cause global warming, the Michigan utility’s president and CEO told The Associated Press.

The utility plans to generate 40 percent of its power from renewable sources such as wind and solar energy by then, Patti Poppe said in an interview ahead of a public announcement Monday. She said the utility will also will rely on natural gas, hydropower and improved efficiency to meet customer needs.

Consumers Energy and DTE Energy Co., which supply most of Michigan’s electricity, are among many U.S. providers moving away from coal even as President Donald Trump’s administration boosts fossil fuels and seeks to unravel former President Barack Obama’s policies that promoted cleaner power.

“We believe that climate change is real and we can do our part by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, and we also believe it doesn’t have to cost more to do it,” Poppe said. “We believe we’re going to be on the right side of history on this issue.”

Coal is becoming less competitive as the cost of producing renewable energy steadily falls, she added.

Power companies are under increasing pressure to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, which are trapping heat in the atmosphere and promoting what scientists describe as a dangerously warming climate that will endanger human health and natural systems.

The utility says its customers include 6.7 million of Michigan’s 10 million residents.

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