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.

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