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Environmental group dings Ameren for prolonged coal use

In September, Ameren said it planned to operate with net-zero carbon emissions by 2050
Credit: SLBJ

ST. LOUIS — An environmental nonprofit's report on energy firms' climate pledges criticized Ameren Missouri for plans to keep using coal past 2030, a date it says utilities must stop burning the fossil fuel to "avoid catastrophic warming."

The Sierra Club, in the report released Monday, said that it studied companies that account for 68% of remaining coal generation, and that those firms plan to keep 75% of their coal-fired power plants running for another decade.

And it found that the 50 parent companies it studied plan to build clean energy amounting to less than one-fifth of their current coal and gas generation.

Sierra characterized the companies' plans as a problem because global planet-warming emissions must be cut by half by 2030 or risk "long-lasting and irreversible changes" caused by climate change.

Ameren Missouri parent Ameren Corp. (NYSE: AEE) in September said it planned to operate with net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, in a more aggressive goal than was previously outlined. The utility said the plan would require nearly $8 billion in investment, and it has closed on wind assets in the northeast and northwest parts of Missouri since then. It has also outlined plans for a solar facility near New Florence, and created a C-suite role to advance the renewable energy initiative.

A spokesman for the utility on Monday also pointed to interim milestones including reducing carbon emissions 50% by 2030 and 85% by 2040, based on 2005 levels. The company said its goals "are consistent with the objectives of the Paris Agreement and limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius," a reference to a climate change agreement signed in 2016.

The Sierra report said Ameren Missouri has committed to retiring just 18% of its coal capacity by 2030, and planned 30% as much clean energy as existing fossil fuel energy by then. It assigned Ameren Missouri a D score, and ranked it 29th out of 79 utilities examined.

Click here for the full story from the St. Louis Business Journal.

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