Energy

It's Time to Shift from Coal to Clean Energy

| by Sierra Club

Utilities and coal companies would like you to believe that if we don’t build new coal-fired power plants, we will all have to spend the rest of our lives shivering in the dark. But in the news this week, we find a very different story about what really happens when energy companies look beyond coal: they invest in clean, renewable energy instead.

Earlier this year, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission denied a proposal by Alliant Energy to build a coal-fired power plant. Now, the company has decided to invest that money in clean energy – specifically, wind power.

In a story with an incredible headline – “Denial of Coal Plant Blows Utility Toward Turbine Deal” – Alliant Spokesman Rob Crain says, "The PSC expressed concern over carbon, and we listened."

The coal industry has been spending millions of dollars to convince us they’re the cheapest and easiest way to keep the lights on. They tell us that change is costly, and they want you to believe that clean energy is not a viable alternative and that greenhouses gases aren’t a concern.

And yet here is a utility doing just the opposite – listening to what the public, the science, and decision makers are telling them.

Alliant in Wisconsin isn’t the only example of a switch from coal to clean energy. In February we wrote about the Highwood plant in Montana switching to wind power and natural gas.

Also in February, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called for the Capitol Coal Plant, one of the largest polluters in the nation’s capitol, to stop burning coal and switch to 100% natural gas.

And then last May was our huge victory with the Association of Missouri Electricity Cooperatives, when they agreed to drop a planned coal plant and instead launch an energy efficiency campaign.

The bottom line is that there are plenty of clean alternatives to coal power, and utilities are already starting to make the shift. With a climate crisis looming, clean energy is clearly where we should be investing our resources. Despite all their multi-million dollar ad campaigns to the contrary, the energy companies are beginning to understand that too.

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Should the U.S. build more coal-fired power plants? Click here to see our Opposing Views debate.

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