Over the past three years, some of the country's biggest utilities have been committing to weaning themselves off carbon-emitting generation by 2050, reported a September 16 story from Green Tech Media (GTM).
Here's a look at the five largest U.S. utilities by market capitalization that have set net-zero targets so far:
Virginia's Clean Economy Act demands that the state's flagship utility, Dominion Virginia, supply at least 30 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2030 and shut down all carbon-emitting power plants by 2045. That's a far more aggressive plan than Dominion's goal to reach net-zero carbon by 2050 across its electric and gas operations serving about 7.5 million customers across 18 states, GTM noted.
Dominion Energy's 2020 integrated resource plan sets a goal of nearly 16 gigawatts of solar, 5.1 gigawatts of offshore wind, and 2.7 gigawatts of energy storage over the next 15 years, according to GTM. While Dominion has planned its offshore wind push for years, the remaining new targets represent a major shift for a resource mix that's currently roughly one-third coal, one-third natural gas, and one-quarter nuclear, with about 5 percent renewables.
GTM said that Duke plans to double its renewables portfolio to 16,000 MW by 2025 through its renewables arm and through large-scale solar deployments. It's also looking to the potential for small modular reactors for carbon-free baseload power and long-duration storage technologies such as molten salt, compressed/liquefied air, subsurface pumped hydro, and advanced battery chemistries.
Southern's 44 GW of generating capacity is 52 percent natural gas, 13 percent coal, 17 percent nuclear, and 12 percent renewables. Southern hasn't committed to any hard deadlines for closing its coal plants and still plans to build new natural-gas generation in the years to come, according to GTM.
Xcel will rely on retaining its nuclear capacity, which is nearly 60 percent of its carbon-free resource mix at present, to reach its target, GTM noted.
Public Service Enterprise Group
Nuclear power plays a large role in PSEG's carbon-reduction plans. GTM said that much like fellow nuclear power plant operator Exelon has done in New York and Illinois, PSEG has enticed state legislators to provide financial backing for its three nuclear power plants in the form of zero-emissions credits.