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Feature Article

Buying Renewable Energy the Smart Way

By Roger S. Conrad on Feb. 8, 2021

Net zero emissions of carbon dioxide by 2050: We’ve now heard that promise made by dozens of countries as well as US electric and natural gas utilities.

Even midstream energy companies have joined in. And 1,185 corporations worldwide have now signed onto the Science-based Targets Initiative framework, slated for publication in November of this year.

Getting to net zero won’t be easy. Electric utilities and other power generators are retiring coal-fired power plants at feverish pace. The black mineral accounted for just 21 percent of total US output in 2020, down from more than 50 percent barely a decade ago. And all but a handful of utilities plan to phase it entirely over the next couple decades.

So far exiting coal alone has resulted in a 28 percent decline in power sector CO2 emissions from 2000 levels. And the move has also cut system costs, enabling utilities to simultaneously keep a lid on customer rates while growing rate base to fuel earnings.

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