- Talking points: See below.
- Sierra Club’s RSVP link (it’ll give them an idea of numbers): https://www.addup.org/events/hearing-on-pses-long-term-energy-plan
It is vital that the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission use its existing authority to defend the public interest to reject any long-term plan from PSE that does not address getting coal-fired electricity from Colstrip off the utility’s grid by 2025 and explicitly exclude new fracked gas infrastructure, including liquefied natural gas.
There are four critical steps that PSE must take to allow the state to meet its climate goals and our commitment under the Paris Accord:
PSE must get coal-fired electricity from the Colstrip coal plant off the grid no later than 2025. This is a no brainer—no state or utility can call itself a climate leader while it continues to burn coal.
Colstrip is largest climate polluter in the west, generating the same amount of carbon dioxide as three million cars. We have secured retirement for the smaller Units 1 and 2, which will go offline no later than July 2022. Now PSE must nail down a date certain for the retirement of Units 3 and 4 to enable the Colstrip community to prepare for the inevitable retirement of Colstrip. PSE says they cannot force the retirement of Colstrip because they are only one of five owners that operate in six different states. But what they can and must immediately do is publicly declare that they will not waste any more customer money on this climate disaster after 2025, which is when the current mine that supplies Colstrip runs out of coal, the Paris Accord reaches its first compliance deadline, and King County and many other communities have committed to transitioning off coal.
Why 2025? That end date is 2025 when the current mine runs out of coal, when nitrogen controls will be required, when King County and other communities have made clear no more coal by 2025, and internationally, when the Paris Climate Agreement reaches its first compliance deadline. The stars are aligned for 2025 and Puget must declare it will not waste any more customer money by that date.
PSE needs to take all new gas infrastructure out of its long-range plan.
Fracked gas is another climate disaster. PSE plans to build over 700 megawatts of new gas plants in 10 years while continuing to burn coal. Methane is the critical component of fracked gas, and it is 87 times more damaging to the climate than carbon dioxide. Small amounts of methane that leak—from drilling, to extraction and processing, to pipeline transmission and distribution—mean that gas is as bad for the climate as coal. By the time the gas reaches a gas plant or the PSE’s proposed LNG terminal in Tacoma, it is too late. The climate damage is already done.
PSE must begin laying the groundwork to phase out its existing gas plans by planning for a transition to a 100% carbon-free grid.
Gas is the new coal, and it is the next big climate fight. The first order of business is to stop digging the hole deeper by building new gas infrastructure. PSE must stop its illegal construction of the LNG facility in Tacoma and halt plants for new gas plants for electricity. However, the next critical step is to plan for a transition to 100% clean energy, just as PSE has already done for its big businesses and governments. Every long-term plan moving forward must be a blueprint for a carbon-free future.
PSE must vastly expand its investment in renewable energy and diversify its renewable resources.
All the academic research shows that, if we are going to become carbon free with no gas or coal-fired electricity, then we must diversify our renewable energy resources. We can achieve vast reductions in energy use through energy efficiency, and the price of wind and solar power continue to plummet. In addition, our peak electricity demand is in winter and that is what is driving PSE’s push for new gas plants. Montana wind power peaks in the winter, so it is a perfect complement to our heavy concentration of wind around the Columbia Basin.