Seven Power Companies Sign Obama’s Climate Pledge, Commitments Include Retiring Coal

Seven power producers have joined 74 other companies in signing on to the Obama administration’s American Business Act on Climate initiative, which is aimed at rallying U.S. companies behind the need for action on climate change ahead of international climate talks in Paris next month.

The seven are Berkshire Hathaway Energy (BHE)—parent company of PacifiCorp, MidAmerican Energy, NV Energy, and others—Calpine, Iberdrola USA, Invenergy, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), Portland General Electric (PGE), and Tri Global Energy.

Retiring coal-fired power plants is one way that companies are taking action. As part of BHE’s commitment, the company said that it would retire more than 75% of its coal-fueled generating capacity in Nevada by 2019. NV Energy owns or shares interest in three coal-fired plants: Reid Gardner Generating Station, North Valmy Generating Station, and Navajo Generating Station (Arizona). PGE’s pledge was not just to cut back on coal, but to end its use altogether. It plans to retire Oregon’s only coal-fired power plant—the 585-MW Boardman Power Plant—by the end of 2020.

Some other notable commitments made by power companies include the following:

  • BHE pledged to build on its investment of more than $15 billion in renewable energy generation under construction and in operation through 2014 by investing up to an additional $15 billion.
  • Calpine pledged to continue its efforts to support market-based solutions aimed at lowering carbon emissions in the power sector and to work with states where it operates to help develop the most effective implementation plans for compliance with the Clean Power Plan.
  • Iberdrola USA pledged to build at least another 446 MW of new wind generation in the U.S. and to pursue investments in transmission infrastructure in New England and New York to support the integration of renewable energy onto the grid. That initiative is expected to include providing better access to the New England grid for renewable resources in western and northern Maine and adjacent Canadian provinces, and providing enhanced transmission capacity between renewable resources in New York’s upstate counties and the New York metropolitan area. Iberdrola USA also intends to partner with the Department of Energy through the Partnership for Energy Sector Climate Resilience to develop and pursue strategies to reduce climate- and weather-related vulnerabilities.
  • Invenergy pledged to supply American utility, commercial, and industrial companies with 1 GW of new wind and solar generation by 2020 and double its total deployment of advanced energy storage to 136 MW by 2020.
  • PG&E pledged to provide its nearly 16 million customers with an electricity supply that is more than 60% carbon-free by 2020. In addition, the company plans to invest about $3 billion per year to modernize the grid and make it more resilient. PG&E also said it would facilitate the rapid adoption of rooftop solar installations by improving upon its current ability to interconnect a solar system in three days or less to the point where its interconnection process is fully automated.
  • PGE pledged to add more than 800 MW of new renewable energy, bringing its mix to one-third new and legacy renewable power in average hydro years by the end of 2025. It also plans to optimize cost-effective integration of renewable resources by joining the western energy imbalance market in late 2017 and by acquiring an additional 5 MWh worth of energy storage by 2020.
  • Tri Global Energy pledged to initiate development of an additional 600 MW to 900 MW of new utility-scale wind generation projects annually through 2018 and to install solar photovoltaic systems on 1,000 commercial and 8,000 residential rooftops over the next five years.

A White House fact sheet noted that President Obama is committed to building on this momentum, with American leadership at all levels—the federal government, state and local governments, and the private sector.


Aaron Larson, associate editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)

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