Milwaukee-based WEC Energy Group increased its targets for reducing its carbon emissions over the next decade as the company continues to shift its electric generation toward renewable sources.
The parent company of We Energies, WEC is now targeting a 60% reduction in carbon emissions from its electric generation by 2025 and an 80% reduction by 2030. The percentages are measured off a 2005 baseline. The utility is also targeting net-zero methane emissions in its natural gas distribution by 2030.
Previously, the utility said it was targeting a 55% reduction by 2025 and a 70% reduction by 2030. Its ultimate goal of net carbon neutral electricity generation by 2050 remains in place.
WEC Energy Group has gone from around 73% of its electricity supply coming from coal in 2005 to around 36% last year. More than 1,800 megawatts of coal capacity have been retired since 2018, saving around $100 million in annual operating costs and eliminating more than 10 million tons of CO2 emissions.
The company estimates the percentage of coal in its electricity supply will drop to around 23% by 2030. Executives said Monday during the company’s earnings call that less than 10% of revenues and less than 10% of assets would be tied to coal by 2025.
"As we plan for a bright, sustainable future, our priorities can be summed up in three words — affordable, reliable and clean," said Gale Klappa, executive chairman of WEC Energy Group. "The goals we announced today support national and international efforts, including the Paris Climate Agreement. We're confident we can achieve these milestones while continuing to be a leader in reliability, customer satisfaction and financial performance."
WEC Energy Group said last fall it would invest $2 billion in renewable energy generation sources by 2025. A significant portion of that investment – four projects totaling around $1.5 billion – has already been announced in the last few months.
Executives said Monday the company is ahead of schedule in announcing the projects, but emphasized that the goal is to have the projects in service in 2023 and 2024 when older coal plants in Oak Creek will be retired.
“There will be more coming because there’s other opportunities out there that we’re evaluating,” said Kevin Fletcher, chief executive officer of WEC Energy Group. “So stay tuned.”