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Four key takeaways from a Michigan utility’s clean energy transition

WRITTEN BY -Andy Balaskovitz
PHOTO BY -Consumers Energy / Creative Commons

Four key takeaways from a Michigan utility’s clean energy transition

Consumers Energy President and CEO Patti Poppe presented an economic case for solar power, electric vehicles and moving past coal.

In a speech this week to a large, business-friendly crowd in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Consumers Energy President and CEO Patti Poppe presented an economic case for solar power, electric vehicles and moving past coal.

The company closed seven Michigan coal plants in 2016, cutting carbon emissions 25 percent without hurting its workforce. As the company focuses on solar in the coming years, Poppe said electric vehicles will play a growing role in the company’s “triple bottom line” principle of serving people, the planet and prosperity.

It’s a big departure for a CEO who not too long ago had an “I love coal” bumper sticker on her car. Here are four themes of Poppe’s Dec. 3 speech to the Economic Club of Grand Rapids:

Solar is the future

Poppe conceded that Consumers previously “fought” solar adoption. Now the company is embracing it, planning up to 6,000 megawatts of solar in its portfolio by 2040.

“We can have cleaner, more modular energy that more closely matches demand,” Poppe said. “It saves everyone money.”

She said the build-out will be “a little bit of both” utility-scale and smaller distributed projects, but active farmland isn’t the company’s first choice for development.

“We should be finding ways to use otherwise unusable land for solar — parking lots, warehouse rooftops,” she said.

Content Discussion

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on December 6, 2018

It’s a big departure for a CEO who not too long ago had an “I love coal” bumper sticker on her car.

It always warms the scientific-method-based parts of my heart to see when leaders can and do change their views in the face of new information rather than dig their heels in. We need more people to do the same

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