PSEG to shut most fossil power plants by 2046 to cut carbon emissions

(Reuters) - New Jersey energy company Public Service Enterprise Group Inc PEG.N plans to shut all but three of its fossil fuel-fired power plants in a bid to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2046 from 2005 levels, Chief Executive Ralph Izzo told Reuters.

PSEG also said it could reach net-zero carbon emissions in 2050 by shutting all of its fossil-fuel plants, assuming advances in technology and public policy.

“Our gas (power plant) construction program is over. We do not have plans to purchase or expand the gas fleet,” Izzo said, noting the company will shut its last coal-fired power plant in Bridgeport, Connecticut by June 2021.

PSEG has about 11,000 megawatts of generating capacity. About 60% of the power those plants produce comes from nuclear reactors, 30% from gas, 8% from coal and 2% from solar. One megawatt can power about 1,000 U.S. homes.

The three gas plants the company plans to keep through 2046 are in Sewaren, New Jersey, Keys, Maryland, which were completed in 2018, and in Bridgeport, Connecticut, completed earlier this year.

“If energy storage and advanced nuclear technologies come along and allows us to deal with the dispatchability limitations of renewables, then we can face the challenge of retiring the remaining gas plants,” Izzo said.

In addition to shutting all but three of the company’s gas plants by 2046, Izzo said PSEG has no plans at this point to extend the licenses of its three nuclear reactors at the Salem and Hope Creek stations in New Jersey beyond their current operating licenses, which expire between 2036-2046.

To replace the missing generation, Izzo said PSEG would focus on its $2.5 billion energy efficiency program and offshore wind and solar energy projects.

“The goal is to make sure people are using as little energy as possible, that the electricity we generate is as clean as possible and that we electrify as much of the economy as possible,” Izzo said.

Gas overtook coal as the nation’s leading source of power generation in 2016 and is expected to keep that title for the next 30 years. Gas emits about half the carbon dioxide as coal when burned.

Renewables - hydro, solar and wind - are expected to overtake coal as the second biggest source of power generation by 2026, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration projections.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; editing by Diane Craft