Thursday, April 22, 2021

Celebrating Earth Day in a renewable way

By Ann Briggs

It's no secret that transportation is one of the largest contributors of carbon emissions in our state. It's responsible for almost 45 percent of the state's greenhouse gas emissions. Some of the ways we're working to reduce emissions is through state investments in hybrid-electric ferries, electric vehicle charging stations, electric and alternative fuel vehicle fleets, and changes in the way we operate, such as no-idle and reduced mowing policies.

Another way we're reducing our carbon footprint is through changes in how we power our buildings, terminals and highway lights. Thanks to work by the Governor's State Efficiency and Environmental Performance program, we're one of several large state agencies partnering with Puget Sound Energy to purchase renewable wind and solar energy.
We've partnered with Puget Sound Energy to purchase renewable wind and solar energy,
which can help us reduce carbon pollution.

Beginning in March, we started receiving renewable power through a 10-year contract. We've committed to purchase 35.6 million kWh, almost a quarter of our energy use, through PSE's Green Direct. This PSE program works with commercial and government entities to help us reach Washington state's goal to reduce carbon pollution. Through Green Direct, we'll reduce our agency's emission by 7,000 metric tons annually for each year of our 10-year contract.

A similar program is offered on the east side of the state through Avista's Solar Select program. Under this program, our Spokane-area region office has committed to purchase 650,000 kWh of renewable solar power annually.
Wind power is part of our state’s clean energy grid and purchasing wind energy helps us reduce our carbon footprint.

Benefits of using renewable energy
  • Supports local companies: Green energy options reduce carbon emissions and support the local development of renewable energy resources. Green Direct customers receive renewable power generated from the Skookumchuck Wind Energy Project in Lewis and Thurston counties and from Lund Hill Solar in Klickitat County. Avista's Solar Select Program generates solar energy from more than 80,000 panels in Adams County.
  • Potential cost savings: Using a 10-year agreement, we know what our energy costs will be for the agency's nearly 900 PSE accounts that are participating in the program. We anticipate a cost savings over the 10-year period because our rates are locked in and not subject to typical rate adjustments. The state estimates each of the participating agencies could see annual savings of $15,000 per year on their electric bills.
  • Part of a broader solution: Purchasing renewable power shows that state agencies are committed to reducing emissions and working toward environmentally-responsible operations. These renewable energy partnerships help us fight climate change, create clean energy jobs and save taxpayers thousands of dollars annually in energy costs.