Milwaukee-based WEC Energy Group, the holding company that owns We Energies, aims to be a carbon-neutral future by 2050 for its electric generation fleet.
The company reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent in 2019 and 2020. Originally, the company forecasted that it would meet that system-wide goal by 2030.
Brendan Conway, WEC Energy Group’s spokesperson, said the company accelerated the retirement of several coal plants in 2018 caused the company’s emissions to hit the 40 percent target in 2019, according to Utility Dive. This includes the closing of the We Energies Pleasant Prairie Power Plant.
“We were proud that we were able to do that, and that gave us the confidence to make these new goals as well,” said Brendan Conway.
The WEC Energy Group replaced retired coal plants with natural gas and renewables to meet the original goal. As a result, the group’s 2019 Corporate Responsibility Report outlines a new plan that relies heavily on renewable energy. They currently source 26 percent of power from carbon-free sources with hopes to push that number closer to 80% by 2030.
The group plans to spend $900 million over the next four years on new renewable generation. More specifically, this will include 300 MW of utility-scale solar and 500 MW of wind generation.
According to Conway, the construction of the company’s first utility-scale solar project hit the halfway point last week. The project should be online by the end of the year with two additional solar projects to follow, according to Utility Dive.
Conway also attributed the ability to meet more aggressive carbon goals to declines in solar prices and new technology advancements.
WEC Energy Group is counting on continued advances in technology to enable their future success. They will continue to observe developments in battery storage, carbon capture, and carbon offsets in particular. The company is also running pilot programs to explore utility-scale solar in urban settings. The programs test the possibility of installing panels on top of large buildings.
“We recognize that reducing emissions is essential to building a bright, sustainable future,” said Gale Klappa, executive chairman of WEC Energy Group, in a press release.