TRAVERSE CITY — Clean and lean doesn’t need to be a choice.
Consumers Energy CEO Patti Poppe will discuss the company’s emphasis on renewable energy sources at a speaking engagement in Traverse City on Oct. 9 at the Dennos Museum Center.
Consumers’ Clean Energy Plan was approved in June. The plan will reduce carbon emissions by more than 90 percent by 2040 and close the company’s coal-fired production facilities near Bay City and Holland.
The CEO said Consumers will be 80 percent carbon-free by 2030.
“It’s entirely our future production goal to have 92 percent from renewable energy sources by 2040,” she said. “We’re working on that last 8 percent.”
Poppe said the public is a key component to the Clean Energy Plan and will be part of her presentation in Traverse City.
“We have the opportunity of a generation to work together,” said Poppe, later adding, “The big change is now we’re not able to do it ourselves.”
Poppe said supplying electrical power to the state is still an issue of supply and demand and the general public can help reduce the demand with waste-saving techniques.
The free speaking event begins at 8:30 a.m. with networking and refreshments. Poppe’s remarks are scheduled to begin at 9:15 a.m. and conclude at 10.
Poppe said renewable energy sources used to be a “sucker’s choice” that struggled to deliver clean energy in a cost-effective way.
“Now it’s both clean and lean,” Poppe said, adding that if it happens has now been replaced by when.
Two renewable energy sources are wind and solar. Poppe admitted that wind turbines often are met with public resistance.
“Wind is definitely something a little harder to site,” she said.
Consumers will produce 5,000 megawatts of solar power by 2030 and another 1,000 megawatts by 2040.
Poppe said the utility company will need 59 square miles of solar panels to produce that power. She said that sounds more daunting in concept than it is in reality.
“When you realize that it’s only .05 percent of Michigan’s landmass, I feel very optimistic,” she said.
Poppe said Consumers doesn’t shy away from demonstrations against climate change and wants the company to be a leader in the effort.
“I say come join us,” she said.
Poppe added details of the company’s Clean Energy Plan can be found at www.micleanenergyplan.com. Visitors can “join the movement” and the company will plant a tree for everyone who signs up.
Part of Poppe’s presentation is expected to include a biographical discussion, according to a release from the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce. Poppe is one of 32 female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies in the country.
“I probably won’t talk about it a lot, but it will be pretty obvious,” Poppe joked.
On a more serious note, Poppe said Consumers’ Board of Directors has 40 percent female representation and 30 percent of its officers are women.
“I tell people all the time that I am not alone,” Poppe said. “We have a lot of great women at Consumers Energy so it’s not a total shock that we would have a woman as a CEO.”