The 5 Biggest US Utilities Committing to Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050


Over the past three years, some of the country’s biggest utilities have been committing to a goal that few may have predicted they’d undertake on their own: weaning themselves off carbon-emitting generation by 2050. Driving this sea change in long-term planning is a combination of public pressure and energy economics. To learn more, read: “The 5 Biggest US Utilities Committing to Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050.”

Key Takeaways: 

  • 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 carbon-emitting power plants by 2045.
  • Duke Energy plans to double its renewables to 16,000 MW by 2025 through its renewables arm and via large-scale solar deployments by utilities Duke Energy Carolinas, Duke Energy Progress and Duke Energy Florida
  • Southern Company’s strategy includes Georgia Power’s latest Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) plans to add 2,260 MW of wind, solar and biomass along with 80 MW of battery storage, boost its hydropower capacity and shutter five coal plants. 
  • Xcel will be seeking out “technologies that are not cost-effective or commercially available today,” from carbon-neutral replacements for natural gas to long-duration energy storage or small-scale nuclear power.
  • Public Service Enterprise Group’s $3.5 billion clean energy plan is aimed at meeting New Jersey’s renewable portfolio standard of 35 percent by 2025 and 50 percent by 2030, as well as Gov. Phil Murphy’s goal of reaching 100 percent clean energy by 2050.

Path to 100% Perspective: 

A growing number of investor owned utilities are making 100% commitments, whether the states they supply energy to mandate the requirement or not. In most cases, the metrics that define “100%” compliance are often decoupled from strict renewable requirements, quantified using metrics such as carbon intensity (e.g., 0 g/kWh of CO2 emissions), thus potentially allowing for nuclear and combustion of biofuels and synthetic renewable fuels to meet the goals. The terms 100% renewable, 100% carbon-free and 100% carbon-neutral are often used interchangeably.


Photo: Bernard Hermant on Unsplash