Washington Utilities Now Need to Consider Emissions

PSE UTC hearing in Feb 2018

Activists pack PSE’s 20-year Integrated Resource Plan Utilities and Transportation Hearing in Feb 2018.

We were heard!! Great news for everyone who participated in PSE’s 20-year plan hearing in February.

The Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) formally “acknowledge” the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which means that PSE adhered to the letter of the law – the big news is below.  Here’s the letter: UE-160918 UG-160919 PSE IRP Acknowledgment Letter Final

The Commissioners note several areas of major concern and made several important recommendations (thanks to all of us!!):

1. PSE’s failure to properly take into account risk associated with #Colstrip
2. #PSE needs to use the social cost of carbon in its “lowest reasonable cost” solution for the 2019 #IRP.
3. They recommend supplemental analysis of the Tacoma #LNG terminal given PSE’s erroneous assumption that this project is a done deal.
4. They call out PSE for ignoring many core questions about the #Eastside #Energize transmission project.

The #UTC also acknowledges the tremendous public participation in shaping this IRP, saying that it improved PSE’s IRP and the Commission’s process.

A special THANK YOU to Nathaniel Jones, the mayor pro-tem of Olympia, Michael Lilliquist a Bellingham City Councilmember and Jay Arnold Deputy Mayor of Kirkland for their fabulous article: It’s Time to Make Western Washington Coal Free (Kirkland Reporter).

Articles about the hearing results:

  • Washington State Regulators Tell Utilities to Tally Social Costs of Carbon Emissions (Seattle Times) All WA #utilities will now be required to take #carbon #emissions into consideration when developing their 20-year integrated resource plans. The UTC hearing in Feb was a huge environmental step forward!!
  • Considering Costs of Fossil Fuels in Power Generation Makes Sense (Union Bulletin) “The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission directives were sent to Pacific Power (a provider of electricity in Walla Walla), Puget Sound Energy and Avista Corp, which together serve more than 1.47 million state customers, according to The Seattle Times. The cost of power can’t be considered in a vacuum. It’s clearly more than dollars. It includes the toll to the #environment and the monetary cost of cleaning up or mitigating damage.”
  • Regulators Direct Utilities to Consider Carbon Emission Cost (KHQ)
  • Regulators Raise Tough Questions about Colstrip’s Power Plant (Billings Gazette) “Power plant owners Avista Corp., Puget Sound Energy and PacifiCorp are being asked to explain what the consequences might be if a #Colstrip co-owner calls it quits, or something happens to the #coal mine feeding the power plant. Washington State’s Utility and Transportation Commission expects those questions answered next year, when the utilities submit 20-year resource plans. At issue is cost. The #UTC is concerned that an unexpected departure by Colstrip co-owner Talen Energy or changes at the #Rosebud Mine could increase the price Washington consumers pay for Colstrip power. Those concerns dovetailed with UTC awareness that state and federal regulations of greenhouse gases could also drive up #energy prices. “It is imperative that utility planners recognize the risks and uncertainties associated with greenhouse gas #emissions and identify a reasonable, cost-effective approach to addressing them,” the commission said in its ruling last week.”
  • Colstrip Part Owner giving 4.5M to Help Town Transition Beyond Coal (Independent Record) “Colstrip’s largest shareholder, Puget Sound Energy, has also agreed to be financially ready for power plant closure in nine years. The Seattle-area utility has also not specified an actual shutdown date. Puget has pledged $10 million in transition money to help the #Colstrip community move beyond the closure of the power plant.”
  • Washington Utilities Told to Factor Social Cost of Coal into Planning Decisions (Planet Save) “The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission has issued a directive to three utility companies in the state telling them to include the social cost of coal in their future planning. Under the new guidelines, the cost of coal calculation will be $42 per metric ton by 2020 and rise to $60 per metric ton by 2040. The three utilities subject to the new directives are Puget Sound Energy, Avista Corp, and Pacific Power. The three are all part owners of the Colstrip generating plant in Montana, one of the largest emitters of carbon emissions in the country. “The higher the (carbon) price, the less economic that facility will look, “ Ken Johnson, vice president of Puget Sound Energy, tells the Seattle Times. His company plans to end its reliance on coal by 2030.”

No Time to Rest on Our Laurels: SAVE THE DATE!

The first public meeting for input into PSE’s 2019 IRP is on May 30 from 1-4 pm at PSE’s headquarters in Bellevue (in the “Forum Room”).

This is the kickoff meeting for the public input process that will shape PSE’s 2019 plan.

If you’re free on May 30 in the afternoon please stop by.

Posted in Alternative Energy, Climate, Energy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

We Need to Stop Being Used as Pawns by Big Business

natural resource useIs there one type of natural resource use that’s better than the other? This is the kind of question that riles people up on social media and pits one person against another, but to what end?

If we step back just a minute from the disturbing image at the top of the composite image on the left, we’ll see what we’re talking about is natural resource use and that one industry is vying for your support for their natural resource exploitation over another industry. Bottom line is that all industries need to reevaluate their natural resource use figure out how to have less impact on the earth.

In Naomi Klein’s book This Changes Everything, she talks about industries, such as the tar sands in Alberta, being considered sacrifice zones – places where the environment is ruined – so that a product can be extracted, produced delivered, in this case oil.

Alberta tar sands

Alberta tar sands

Alberta Oil sands

Alberta Oil sands

The image on the bottom half of the composite is the most benign image of the tar sands I’ve ever seen. If you watch This Changes Everything the movie, you’ll see horrific images, more along the lines of the two on the right.

oilsand_sizeHow big is the area does the oil sands occupy you might ask? 140,000 square kilometers. Wow! Is the Alberta tar sands/oilsands/the energy industry trying to manipulate you? Yes. Clearly they’d like you to help them pick a fight with the electric car industry (they’re not innocent either, but we need to stop being used as pawns).

Companies make big profits by exploiting our natural resources, without paying for them and not being held responsible for cleaning up any pollution or obliterating ecosystems. The earth is one big ecosystem – it needs all its parts to work well. Our human idea of compartmentalizing sacrifice zones as if water doesn’t travel downhill, as if air doesn’t move as if the earth was neatly sectioned off into cubicles – we’re smarter than that. Even if we’ve forgotten all of our high school science, we can see that clouds move around, know that water moves in streams. And, if we really think about it, we’re polluting or removing the very things the earth uses to clean our air and water: clean, healthy soil, organic matter and trees.

The point is not to compare one destruction of the environment with another. It is to understand that all destruction of the natural world reduces us – it’s our most precious resource – not only is it beautiful but it’s our life support system.

Posted in Alternative Energy, Climate, Energy, Water | Comments Off

Friends, Don’t Let Friends Buy Earth Worms

Earth WormsI have a confession to make. I may have blacked out, or forgotten that I grew up in farm country, been spending too much time indoors instead of outside, but I think I finally bought into to the messaging that is a constant in the background of our lives: buy something – it will solve your problem, whatever it is. Just buy something. We are consumers after all, why deny our destiny?

I write this as a reminder to myself and to all of us – earth worms live in the ground, near the surface. No need to pay $17 for them – they’re FREE!

Here’s how it all started, see if you can relate. My fabulous husband built a compost bin in the backyard and I have been dutifully filling it up with scraps and layers of dirt. But, I noticed, worms had not found my food scraps so not much composting was going on. I knew I needed worms, and fast. I’m on a schedule, my whole life is a schedule.

A few years ago a landscaper looked at my previous compost bin and announced that I needed red wigglers and that I could buy them at the nursery, which I did a few days later. And, boom! My compost bin was working and steam rising into the frosty fall air. So, that was stuck in my head as I thought about my current barren bin.

I had reallocated the guilt I was feeling about buying a plastic container made from fossil fuels. I told myself, I’ll repurpose it. And, home I went. Opened up the compose bin and dumped the worms in. Thankfully, my fabulous husband was standing nearby.

“What are you doing?” He asked as he looked in the bin.

“Adding worms,” I said, now feeling super stupid.

“They’re dead,” he said picking out a few and showing me their lifeless bodies.

My fabulous husband lives with his feet firmly on terra firma. Somehow a shovel materialized and he dug a scoop of dirt near the compost bin.

“There are worms in the dirt,” he said picking them from the dirt and throwing big, healthy, living worms into the bin.

So, there you have it. If you see a friend, like me, who has temporarily forgotten that worms live in the soil, right under our feet, remind them so they don’t accidentally perpetuate consumerism when there is no need.

Posted in At Home, Food, My CO2 Footprint | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

PSE 20-Year Plan Hearing PACKED

PSE President and CEO, and Chair of the American Gas Association Kimberly Harris.

Likeness of PSE President and CEO, and Chair of the American Gas Association Kimberly Harris.

Wednesday, February 21st, Renton, WA at Puget Sound Energy’s 20-year Integrated Resource Plan hearing before the Utilities and Transportation Commission — More than 250 people packed the room to protest PSE’s 20-year fossil fuel plan. 100s rallied outside in the freezing cold. Public comment lasted from 1:30-4pm then started up again with King County Executive Dow Constantine at 5:30 and went until 7pm. It was incredible to witness a constant stream of people asking for a path to 100% renewable energy.

100s gathered outside of the Renton Community Center to hear speakers from Native American communities as well as Sierra Club, ReDefine Tacoma and others.

100s gathered outside of the Renton Community Center to hear speakers from Native American communities as well as Sierra Club, ReDefine Tacoma and others.

Just in!! Here’s a FANTASTIC letter that the entire 23rd Legislative District delegation (Senator Christine Rolfes, and Representatives Appleton and Hansen) sent the UTC regarding PSE’s 2017 IRP: Legislative Letter re PSE IRP to WA UTC.

Read the AMAZING letter that Bainbridge Island City Council sent to the Utilities and Transportation Commission: COBI LTR to WUTC 021518

Today, Thursday Feb 22nd, is the last day to comment on PSE’s 20-year plan:

  • Email to records@utc.wa.gov  Include a brief cover note that includes:
  • “This is a comment on PSE’s 2017 Integrated Resource Plan, Docket numbers UE-160918 and UG-160919”
More than 250 people packed the Renton Community Center to comment before the UTC.

More than 250 people packed the Renton Community Center to comment before the Utilities and Transportation Commission.

Groups who testified included: as 350 Seattle350 Tacoma, Backbone, Redefine Tacoma, Vashon Climate Action Group, Indigenous environmental activists, faith organizations, Puyallup Tribal Nation, Puyallup Water Warriors, Indivisible Vashon, Indivisible Bainbridge, Students for the Salish Sea, the Sierra Club. Elected officials from throughout PSE service territory testified, including King County Executive Dow Constantine, Olympia Mayor Pro-Tem Nathaniel Jones, Kirkland Deputy Mayor Jay Arnold, and Bellingham City Council Member Michael Lilliquist and Montana State Rep. Denise Hayman.

“Montana state Representative Denise Hayman attended the meeting to urge PSE to stop relying on coal.

‘I’m here to promote Montana wind,’ Hayman said. ‘We have great wind in Montana, and we could be providing that to Washington at a very reasonable cost.’

She talked about the fact that Montana wind generates the most energy in the winter, when WA needs it most and would eliminate the need for PSE’s proposed gas peaker plants.

“Puget Sound Energy declined to make anyone available to comment, but its 20-year plan indicates coal’s the cheapest option — unless Washington passes a carbon tax. That would make renewable options cheaper than coal.”

However, Governor Inslee’s watered-down Carbon Tax SB 6203 is now under attack from Montana and Wyoming.

One of the best comments I heard was from Kellen Lynch, an Energy Policy Researcher at Western Washington University:

“I am an energy policy researcher at Western Washington University and today I am here with 8 of my peers. I would like to start by thanking the UTC and Michael Lilliquist from Bellingham for coming down, as well. 
I think it is fundamentally important to remember why we are all here today. There are over 200 of us in this room. It is because we care. We care about our future. However, after listening to PSE’s presentation today I am concerned about the apparent lack of urgency in their plan. I think it’s important to look at the language that was used in their plan. Three words from their presentation today stick out to me. Those words are, “The next IRP”
Why the next? Why not now? I am worried that if we keep pushing off action we will continue to kick the can down the road as we’ve done since the 1980s when we started seriously studying climate change.

Language is important. I would like to point out that calling natural gas is disingenuous to what it really is. It would be equally accurate for me to call solar power “natural electricity” but that doesn’t tell you what it really is. Natural gas is a methane fuel. Methane is about 30 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

Lastly, I would like to comment on PSE’s proposed small scale case study on flow batteries. I think it’s great that they are looking at batteries for energy storage. We need to go that direction. However, I am confused because PSE claims they are doing a case study because they’ve never worked with batteries before. One other thing they’ve never done before is to store massive amounts of methane fuel, like at the proposed facility near Tacoma. It strikes me as odd that they are doing a small case study for batteries, but not for a dangerous and toxic massive fuel storage infrastructure project. 

Thank you.”

King County Executive Dow Constantine testifies before the UTC.

King County Executive Dow Constantine testifies before the Utilities and Transportation Commissioners.

King County Executive Dow Constantine made a middle-of-the-road comment supporting the bills that PSE and other Investor Owned Utilities support: SB 6424 and HB 2839. (I think I was expecting more after seeing him in the movie From the Ashes.)

SB 6424 – Sponsors Carlyle, Fain, Palumbo, Saldaña
In Committee.

HB 2839 – Sponsored by Representatives Morris, Slatter, Doglio, and Fitzgibbon

House Technology & Economic Development

Bill text

Brief Summary of carbon adder bill

  • Requires electrical companies, gas companies, and the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) to use a carbon planning adder when evaluating and selecting conservation policies, programs, and targets.
  • Authorizes the UTC to regulate an electrical or gas company under an alternative form of regulation.

My comment before the UTC yesterday:

After PSE’s Rate Case Hearing in August I was thrilled to learn that PSE and other stakeholders agreed to a settlement  with the UTC to move up the timeline to recover depreciation costs for Colstrip Units 3&4 to 2027.

Puget Sound Energy’s 20-year Integrated Resources Plan (IRP) makes it clear that they do not anticipate bringing any new renewable energy online in the foreseeable future without stronger environmental regulations. The plan includes continued use of fossil fuels and related infrastructure, such as:

 Gas Peaker plants, 
Tacoma’s Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) plant,
 gas from British Columbia, and
 continued operation of Colstrip.

The IRP indicates that PSE can meet the Energy Independence Act’s Renewable Portfolio Standard of 9% now and 15% starting 2020 by using Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) instead of increasing their renewable energy resources.

Washington State will not be able to meet its climate commitments without transitioning to a carbon-free future. As our state’s largest utility, Puget Sound Energy has a particular responsibility to lead the way.

Please continue to defend the public interest by rejecting any plan from Puget Sound Energy that does not move toward a 100% fossil-fuel-free future.

Thank you.

Posted in Alternative Energy, Climate, Energy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Washington: Take Climate Action 7 Ways

PSE's coal-generated energy from Colstrip, MT coal plant.

PSE’s coal-generated energy from Colstrip, MT.

  1. Sign an online letter from the Sierra Club requesting renewable energy before the February 21st Energy Plan Hearing in Renton: sc.org/DearUTC
  2. Go to the 23rd Legislative District Town Hall Meeting on Sat. Feb 17th 10am-11:30am at Poulsbo City Hall, 200 Moe Street NE, Poulsbo. Ask for more renewable energy and a better Carbon Tax. See CarbonWA’s information on the Governor’s Carbon Tax Substitute SB 6203: http://carbonwa.org/substitute-sb-6203-analysis/
  3. Go to CarbonWA’s Climate Lobby Day in Olympia and virtually, Monday Feb 19th 8:30am-3:30pm. Information on their Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/217440028830921/
  4. Go to PSE’s 20-year Plan Hearing in Renton Wednesday Feb 21st noon rally, public comments start at 1:30pm. Join Sierra Club, 350.org and hundreds of concerned citizens to ask for a path to 100% renewable energy. More info: sc.org/Demand100 Carpool link: bitly.com/Feb21Carpools
  5. Listen to CarbonWA and Citizens’ Climate Lobby Wed Feb 28th 7pm discuss Climate Legislation here at Eagle Harbor Church. FB event: https://www.facebook.com/events/213792509186372/
  6. Go to Public Comment Meeting in Olympia March 5th to say no to offshore drilling. More info: https://www.boem.gov/National-Program-Participate/
  7. Hike with Attorney General Bob Ferguson to Save our Coast in August. Dates to be announced. Links to FB page to follow here: http://www.atg.wa.gov/news/news-releases/ferguson-lead-save-our-coast-hike-along-northern-olympic-peninsula

 

Posted in Alternative Energy, Climate, Energy | Comments Off

Join Low Carbon Girl and Hundreds of Concerned Citizens

Act now to ensure a future without fossil fuels.

Act now to ensure a future without fossil fuels.

Ask for a Path to 100% Renewable Energy

Join me and hundreds of other concerned citizens as well as groups such as 350.org, Backbone, Redefine Tacoma, Vashon Climate Action Group, Indigenous environmental activists, Puyallup Tribal Nation, Puyallup Water Warriors, Indivisible Vashon, Indivisible Bainbridge, Students for the Salish Sea, the Sierra Club and many more on February 21st – let your voice be heard. Ask for a path to 100% renewable energy now!

Public comments will start at 1:30pm. Get there by 1pm to sign in if you’d like to speak.

Let’s ask the Utilities and Transportation Commissioners to direct Puget Sound Energy (PSE) to increase their renewable energy mix to help mitigate climate change – it’s in the public’s and planet’s interest.

Puget Sound Energy’s 20-year Integrated Resource Plan recommends:

THE TIME IS NOW to influence what kind of power Puget Sound Energy will offer us in the future.

Take Action in Four Ways:

  1. Sign a letter:  sc.org/DearUTC
  2. Write a letter from scratch to the Utilities and Transportation Commission:
    • Email to records@utc.wa.gov  Include a brief cover note that includes:
    • “This is a comment on PSE’s 2017 Integrated Resource Plan, Docket numbers UE-160918 and UG-160919”
    • Your organization or business name (if applicable)
    • Contact info of the person submitting the comment: Name, email, phone number, address
    • Here are some talking points: PSE IRP Hearing TPs 1.10.18
    • Please also email to The Sierra Club:  jessica.koski@sierraclub.org and to your local community organizer: jane@lowcarbongirl.com
  3. Sign a letter to PSE’s CEO Kimberly Harris requesting renewable energy: bitly.com/ColstripReplacement
  4. Join Low Carbon Girl and hundreds of other concerned citizens on February 21st at PSE’s Integrated Resource Plan Hearing. Location: Renton Community Center. Public comments are from 1:30pm to 7pm, please come early if you’d like to sign up to speak. If you’re interested in going to the hearing, please RSVP for the hearing at sc.org/Demand100 and also submit a comment!

Join me and hundreds of other concerned citizens as well as groups such as 350.org, Backbone, Indigenous environmental activists, the Sierra Club – let your voice be heard.

EXTRA POINTS: Write your legislators.

What is the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC)?

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission is a three-member commission appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state senate.

Our Mission is to protect the people of Washington by ensuring that investor-owned utility and transportation services are safe, available, reliable and fairly priced.

Regulated businesses include electric, telecommunications, natural gas, and water. The commission also regulates in-state household movers, solid waste carriers, private ferries, and inter-city busses, as well as safety issues affecting charter buses, railroads, limousines, and nonprofit senior/handicapped transportation services.

Washington State law requires that utility and transportation rates must be reasonable to customers, giving regulated companies a chance to cover legitimate costs and earn a fair profit, so it can stay in business. What is fair to the company, and at the same time fair to the people and businesses it serves, is what the commission must decide many times over. Cases are heard in a formal, legal setting, with the commission hearing evidence from all sides before issuing a decision.

* Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) Direct Links:

Posted in Climate, Energy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

PSE Coal-Free by 2027?

UTC_8312017Background: On August 31st, the WA Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC)  held a hearing regarding Puget Sound Energy (General Rate Case), Dockets UE-170033 & UG-170034. It was standing room only. The Fire Marshall had to move people into the hallway to meet code. Erika from Climate Action Bainbridge and I didn’t get to speak until 8:30pm. Everyone from 6-8:30pm asked UTC to direct Puget Sound Energy (PSE) to stop using coal-generated electricity by 2025. So many eloquent speakers: Vashon Climate Action, League of Women Voters from Tacoma, Pierce and Thurston Counties, King County Council, Bellevue City Council,scientists, grad students, mayor of Olympia, 350.org from Seattle and Tacoma, Native American groups, Seattle city council, Redline Tacoma (now Redefine Tacoma), CENSE from the Eastside, and Sierra Club’s Seattle Chapter, to name a few. Over 20 pages of people signed up to speak, Erika and I were on page 6 and didn’t get to speak until 8:30pm. It’s a #revolution.

Everyone urged the commission to direct PSE to close units 3 & 4 of Colstrip and stop buying and selling coal-generated electricity by 2025. It was awe-inspiring.

Then on Sept 15th, the Sierra Club sent this email:

Today the Sierra Club, PSE, and other stakeholders in the rate case filed a settlement today with the UTC that moves up the depreciation date for Colstrip Units 3&4 to 2027 and provides $10 million dollars for transition for Colstrip, half of which comes straight out of shareholders’ pockets! The Commissioners still have to approve the settlement, but we have no reason to believe they won’t.

YOU DID THIS! Thanks to your tremendous work this summer calling PSE out for its dirty coal and gas secrets and packing rate case hearings, we just took a HUGE step towards retiring the 3rd largest source of carbon pollution in the ENTIRE United States.

The fight’s not over yet…we need to move PSE to 2025 and get a binding retirement deal. BUT WE’VE NEVER BEEN CLOSER!

Outstanding debt for Colstrip was the single biggest obstacle to retiring the plant by 2025. Not anymore!! Plus, PSE’s $10M towards transition sets a critical bar for the other owners to step up and do what’s right by the community.

I can’t tell you what an honor it is to work with each and every one of you. There have been some dark moments this year, but your passion and commitment are constant source of joy and light. THANK YOU!

Link >> to Sierra Club statement on settlement 9.15.17

Link >> LTR to PSE from House of Rep State of WA House of Representatives letter to PSE CEO Kimberly Harris asking PSE to retire the remaining two units (3&4) of Colstrip no later than 2025.

Posted in Alternative Energy, Climate, Energy | Comments Off

Ash Falling on Cedars

Fires in WA State - screen grab of Climate Central map.

Fires in WA State – screen grab of Climate Central map.

Much of the world is understandably focused on hurricanes Harvey, Irma,  Jose and Katia on the East Coast. Communities are being battered by some of the largest hurricanes ever recorded. Meanwhile, on the West Coast, where I live, there are more than 80 fires raging in Washington state.

Last year was the first time in more than 20 years of living on Bainbridge Island that I remember the sky turning white due to fires in Eastern Washington. It lasted for a day. This year it lasted for weeks. The smoke was so bad that we could no longer see Seattle from Bainbridge, we could smell smoke inside our house and outside the air stung our eyes. Fires were 90 miles away and rained ash down on our island and other parts of the state.

A local paper, the Kitsap Sun, put it best, “Kitsap residents — along with those in the wider Puget Sound region — woke to find a thin coating of ash on their cars. The sun, blood red, struggled to pierce a curtain of smoky air, turning the atmosphere an eerie yellow.”

Screen grab of New York Times article about WA fires.

Screen grab of New York Times article about WA fires.

All living things need forests. They protect the world’s water sources, and act as the lungs of the earth, taking in CO2 and exhaling oxygen.

For days we woke up to an orange sun and white sky. It felt apocalyptic. And, for me, someone who is acutely aware that the C02 from the forest fires is a horrible feedback loop. They release sequestered C02 into the atmosphere, heating up the world, drying out underbrush, making tinder for wildfires and all but ensuring more fires next year.

Clean water and air are vital to every living thing on this planet.

I know people are connecting the dots, but I think we need to continue to pull back and look at our entire earth as one biosphere, one living organism – only then can we see it is suffering from our waste byproducts (C02, plastics, removing wetland habitat, burning rainforests, green house gases, bleaching coral, polluting both water and air, etc.). Maybe then we’ll be willing to work together to reduce our impact on our life support system?

Posted in Climate, Conservation, Energy | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off

From the Ashes – Hope

From the Ashes documentaryIf you haven’t seen From the Ashes, a National Geographic documentary, it is well worth renting. Along with Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth sequel, which our local nonprofit environmental groups (EcoAdapt, Climate Action Bainbridge, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Island Power and Sustainable Bainbridge) brought to Bainbridge, they make a strong case for first getting off of coal, and second, getting off of fossil fuels all together.

One Biosphere
After Island Power’s campaign was tabled unanimously on June 13th by the Bainbridge City Council I started to wonder – do people just not get that coal and fossil fuels pollute both air and water – two things that are vital to every living thing on this planet? And, that we have one biosphere (earth) where everything and everyone are connected? People seem to think that we can pollute one part of the world completely forgetting that the earth doesn’t have partitions.

Hope
The idea of public power may have just been too big a concept for Bainbridge Island right now. Hopefully, a climate forum that was started in the wake of the campaign by other environmental groups on the island will provide a better opportunity to educate and discuss how we might mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Climate Leaders in Washington State
The City of Bainbridge Island council chose not to lead, even after they received a positive feasibility study, which they said would inform their decision on whether to move forward with a ballot measure. What gives me hope is that there are many organizations, businesses and local governments that see the bigger picture and are working to mitigate climate change by getting off of fossil fuels. Here are a few:

  • Microsoft: State regulators approve Microsoft move to lower its carbon footprint by acquiring clean power on wholesale markets rather than buying from PSE. Read more…
  • City of Edmonds: City Council recently approved a resolution establishing a community-wide goal of transitioning to 100 percent clean and renewable energy by 2025. Read more…
  • YES! Magazine: Our Best Shot at Meeting Paris Goals? Make Energy Public A new report finds public ownership is the best way for cities and towns to meet renewable energy and efficiency targets. Read more…
  • CarbonWA: Their initiative 732 campaign was admirable. An amazing grassroots organization that is still working toward a clean-energy economy.
  • Climate Action Bainbridge: They have worked on numerous campaigns from Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal to CarbonWA’s initiative 732. And, now CAB members Mike Cox, Gary Lagerloef, Deb Rudnick, and Lara Hansen have been chosen as members of the city’s 9-person Climate Change Advisory Committee.
  • Jefferson County: Our neighbors continue to show us what is possible. Jefferson PUD has grown from 8 to 45 employees since 2013. Read more…
  • EcoAdapt: Meeting the challenges of climate change. A nonprofit here on the island with national reach.
  • Citizens Climate Lobby: Your local chapter.
  • Sierra Club: Their Beyond Coal Campaign is now Beyond Fossil Fuels. Their campaign is featured in the new documentary From the Ashes, on the National Geographic Channel. Join them to get involved in the fight for a cleaner, healthier future.
  • 350.org: The Seattle chapter.
  • Greenpeace: Climate campaigns.
  • Backbone Campaign they’re working with RedLine Tacoma and 350.org to stop the #LNG pipeline: http://www.backbonecampaign.org/
  • Redline Tacoma (changing their name soon) Working to stop PSE’s LNG pipeline.
Posted in Alternative Energy, Energy, My CO2 Footprint | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Island Power Effort Tabled for Now

From Bainbridge Island City Manager Doug Schultz’s Report June 16th, “After over two years of studying the feasibility of forming a municipal electrical utility, the City Council voted during their meeting on June 13 to cease further consideration of forming a municipal utility at this time.

City Manager Doug Schulze is featured in PSE promotion of a grant to Island Church.

City Manager Doug Schulze is featured in PSE promotion of a grant to Island Church.

We didn’t even get our measure on the ballot. As one confused person asked at the June 13th Council Meeting “how can this go forward with a 10% vote, don’t we need 51% or something?” Yes, it’s called a ballot measure. We had hoped that the council would write an ordinance to put our measure on the ballot so that the island could vote on it. But, PSE wasn’t going to make the Thurston mistake again. They were going to stop our campaign before it reached the ballot.

One concerned person wrote council:

“It was stated that there is little public support for this issue, which is no surprise seeing the constant negative press leveled by PSE using ratepayers’ dollars. Regardless if there is support now or not, it is perhaps the only meaningful way for the public to engage in dialog and debate as a democratic tool of education on this matter. The council has wisely spent the 100k of taxpayers money for the Hittle report, which lays out a positive process forward, so it seems that the public should at least have a right to a full debate and vote.”

I couldn’t agree more. People seem to like the word democracy but don’t always know what it entails.

PSE is completely embedded in our community, giving money (via their foundation) and participating in the following events (only a small sample):

  • Bainbridge in Bloom – sponsors
  • Bainbridge Farmers’ Market – booth
  • Bainbridge Museum of Art – sponsored fundraising BASH
  • Bainbridge Rotary Auction – sponsors
  • Bainbridge Chamber of Commerce – on the board
  • Bainbridge City Hall – PSE employees attend the following meetings: City Council, Utility Advisory Committee, Comprehensive Planning, and Planning Commission.
  • Bainbridge Island Downtown Association – $14,000
  • Bainbridge Schools Foundation – $5,000 grant from PSE
  • Bainbridge High School junior received a $1,000 scholarship prize from PSE for her Grand Old Fourth illustration
  • Bloedel Reserve – sponsored Light the Night event
  • City of Bainbridge Island -  received a $15,000 grant from PSE to upgrade 207 LED street lights (1/3/2017).
  • Bainbridge Island Review – digital and print ads run every week for more than 2 years. The Review came out against the idea of the feasibility study – screen grab of opinion piece sandwiched between two PSE ads.
  • Grand Old Fourth – sponsors, participants
  • Grow Development – PSE presented a rebate check of over $40,000 to support energy-efficient construction on Bainbridge Island.
  • Halloween – sponsored trick or treat downtown
  • Harbour Pub – paid for the lease on a Biodigester
  • Island Church - $50,000
  • Islandwood – sponsored 65 students
  • West Sound Wildlife Shelter – sponsored fundraising event ($10,000)
  • Chilly Hilly Bike Event – booth
  • Winter Studio Tour – sponsors

PSE_checks2

It has rained money from PSE for the past few years.  Great for the island, but, maybe not so great for democracy?

 

Posted in My CO2 Footprint | Comments Off