THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF COAL?….A private equity group that’s purchasing TXU Corporation, a Texas utility firm, has agreed to drop plans to build 8 of its 11 proposed new coal plants. It’s part of a broad array of environmental measures they’ve agreed to in order to smooth the way for the deal to go through:

The roster of commitments came through an unusual process in which the equity firms asked two prominent environmental groups what measures could be taken to win their support….Environmentalists said they hoped that the TXU deal would represent a turning point in the attitude of energy businesses as they adjust to what many anticipate will be a new regulatory and public-relations landscape in an era of climate change.

Over at Grist, David Roberts is ecstatic: “The ‘tipping point’ concept is cheap from overuse these days, but to me this is the clearest sign yet that we have entered a fundamentally new stage in the fight against global warming.” He also can’t resist throwing a few intramural punches:

Who did the equity firms approach about making the project environmentally acceptable? NRDC and Environmental Defense. Green groups like these get grief from hardcore enviros because they work closely with business and favor market-based solutions. They get grief from the Reaper crowd because they’re stodgy and technocratic and not hip to the new Apollo Alliance-style “framing.” But who’s making things happen?

This is good news. Still, I’m going to wait a bit and see what kind of plans TXU proposes to make up for those eight aborted coal plants. Let’s hope the alternatives are as green as we’d like them to be.