Utilities meeting, exceeding clean-energy goals

I-397: Report gives data for 4 counties

jdodge@theolympian.comOctober 16, 2012 

Electric utilities serving the South Sound area are meeting or exceeding the clean-energy requirements of voter-approved Initiative 397, according to a report released today by the NW Energy Coalition.

The measure approved by voters in 2006 requires utilities with more than 25,000 customers to gradually ramp up renewable energy resources to 15 percent of their energy portfolios by 2020. It also calls on them to secure all available cost-effective energy conservation.

The first I-937 status report covers the 2010-11 biennium. The first benchmark requires the eligible utilities to reach 3 percent green-energy supplies by the end of 2012.

The energy coalition report covers the Grays Harbor County, Mason County No. 3 and Lewis County public utility districts, as well as Puget Sound Energy, the state’s largest utility, which serves Thurston County.

Wind power and biomass projects in the state have aided the four utilities in meeting the I-937 benchmarks for green energy, coalition policy director Nancy Hirsh noted. Statewide, investment in renewable energy has exceeded more than $8 billion in the past 10 years, creating more than 5,000 construction jobs and 2,200 permanent jobs, according to an earlier NW Energy Coalition assessment.

Here’s how the utilities fared on the energy efficiency front:

 • Investor-owned Puget Sound Energy saved the equivalent of 72.6 average megawatts in 2010-11, enough electricity to power 50,000 homes. The savings represented about a 45 percent boost in energy conservation measures by the utility over the previous three bienniums.

 • Grays Harbor County PUD achieved 2.7 average megawatts in energy savings in 2010-11, which marked a sevenfold increase over what it previously was achieving.

 • Mason County PUD reached 1.6 average megawatts of energy conservation, which is more than twice its targeted goal and five times more than it was tallying in recent years.

 • Lewis County PUD weighed in at 2.8 average megawatts in 2010-11, a 550 percent increase .

All four utilities are meeting from 1 percent to 1.5 percent of their customer’s electricity needs with energy efficiency measures, including energy-saving appliances, industrial motors, lighting, windows and insulation.

“These utilities should be commended for their energy efficiency achievements, which will save money for their customers,” Hirsh said.

Here’s a review of the four utilities’ clean energy supplies:

 • Puget Sound Energy began investing in wind power before voters approved I-937 and plans to keep expanding its wind energy supplies, company spokesman Andy Wappler told The Olympian’s editorial board last week. It has more than enough eligible wind power to meet its requirement of 72.6 average megawatts by the end of 2012.

 • Mason County PUD No. 3 will use wind and solar power to meet its goal of 2.3 average megawatts.

 • Grays Harbor PUD has wind and biomass resources totalling 13.4 average megawatts, compared with the 3.2 average megawatts it’s required to have by the end of 2012.

 • Lewis County PUD will use wind power to slightly exceed its 3.2 average megawatt requirement.

John Dodge: 360-754-5444 jdodge@theolympian.com

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