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Clean Energy

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, center, pulls off his "100%" cap, standing for a goal of 100% clean energy, after posing for a photo with supporters after signing climate protection legislation Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

Washington state now has the strongest clean electricity law in the nation. That's how many environmentalists describe new regulations that force utilities to get off coal by 2025 and to be 100 percent free of greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.

Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

One of the biggest priorities among environmental groups working in Olympia this year is passage of a law to transition the electrical grid to 100 percent clean energy by 2045. It’s also a cornerstone of Gov. Jay Inslee’s latest policies to address climate change. The proposal faces a key vote in the state House finance committee on Friday morning.

Tribal members and their supporters fill the office of Gov. Jay Inslee on Jan. 23, 2018, in protest against the construction of a liquified natural gas plant being built in Tacoma.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Climate activists rallied on the Capitol steps in Olympia on Thursday and delivered boxes containing nearly 150,000 written comments to Gov. Jay Inslee.

They're urging him to reject proposals for fracked gas infrastructure in Washington, including two projects already underway, in Tacoma and Kalama.

Ted S. Warren / AP file

Gov. Jay Inslee is pushing to get Washington state to 100 percent clean energy by 2045. And he's not alone. Dozens of environmental groups, labor organizations, local governments and clean energy businesses also support the idea. 

courtesy Rob Harmon, MEETS Coalition. MEETS stands for 'Metered Energy Efficiency Transaction Structure.'

One of the most effective sources of so-called ‘clean energy’ is increasing efficiency, so less is needed to heat or cool or light a building.

A new program from Seattle City Light incentivizes landlords to invest in those upgrades.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

A hydroelectric project that threatened to diminish scenic waterfalls on the South Fork of the Skykomish River near Index will not be built.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

You may have heard that new technologies in the clean energy sector are creating new jobs. But what does that really mean?

Researchers at the University of Washington have a $3 million grant to support emerging careers where energy science is combined with big data.  

Ted S. Warren, file / AP Photo

Washingtonians are parsing the state budget passed last week by a divided legislature. It adds $1.8 billion for basic education over the next two years.  A big chunk of that comes from the closure of a so-called “extractive fuel” loophole, which is one of several new policies that many environmentally progressive groups like.   

President Trump wants America to use more "clean coal" to make electricity. He hasn't elaborated on what kind of coal that might be.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has made clean energy a signature issue of his administration. But some state clean energy grant money is flowing to startup companies staffed by former top state officials.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has set his sights on a clean energy future for the state. Since taking office he’s helped convince the legislature to put $75 million into a Clean Energy Fund.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

If you ever thought that Washington’s often cloudy skies stand in the way of solar power here, think again, says Jeremy Smithson.

The CEO of Puget Sound Solar stood in his warehouse on Rainier Ave. South, surrounded by stacks of solar panels.

“And these are not just inventory – these are all sold projects,” he said, gesturing toward the stacks.

AP Images

 

As the Port of Seattle joins with Tacoma to compete against other ports in British Columbia and California, concerns have arisen that it might be losing sight of some of key environmental goals, such as creating sustainable jobs.

The concerns come as Seattle moves forward with a controversial deal to temporarily host Royal Dutch Shell’s oil drilling fleet at terminal 5 in West Seattle.

Two rigs are headed for the Arctic later this summer, along with support vessels.  And the port says it needs the revenue from that lease to pay for upgrades to the terminal and keep it competitive – for Panamax ships and other things in the long haul.

At the same time, Seattle has joined forces with Tacoma to bring in more revenue from lots of other kinds of shippers – and that agreement, called the Seaport Alliance - has some environmentalists crying foul.

Fred Felleman is the Northwest consultant for Friends of the Earth and served on a port citizens’ committee to develop future goals.

"We're going to be perfectly positioned to roll out the red carpet for Arctic exploitation - not for sustainable clean-green jobs that we worked so hard with the Century Agenda Committee to make our emphasis,"Fellemen said.

He says that Century Agenda is fading into the background.

Felleman has been watch-dogging the port for years. He’s also just joined the race for an open seat on the port commission.

Courtesy of Snohomish County PUD

Snohomish County Public Utility District has pulled the plug on its high-profile research project to develop technology that harnesses the tides to generate electrical power. The utility says the U.S. Department of Energy was not willing to share in escalating costs for the project.

It was to be located in Admiralty Inlet, west of Whidbey Island.

The federal agency committed in 2006 to cover a fixed dollar amount that, at the time, covered half of the total bill for the tidal energy project. But it was not clear how to cover increased costs for materials and new mandates for studies, and the DOE said Friday it would provide no additional funding for the effort.

Bellamy Pailthorp

A cornerstone of Gov. Jay Inslee’s election campaign was the promise of new jobs in clean technology.

But how healthy is the sector in Washington and what’s still holding it back? Hard data on those questions is yet to come, but a visit to the state's inaugural Clean Technology Showcase provided some answers.

Potjie photo / Flickr via Compfight

In 2011, biofuels in the Northwest got a huge boost. The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded $80 million in grants to researchers at the University of Washington and Washington State University. It’s meant to help turn woody biomass into environmentally-friendly fuels for cars and jets.

Now they’re at about the half-way point in their research, and several hundred are attending a conference on wood-based biofuels in Seattle.  

The environmental group Climate Solutions is urging Gov. Jay Inslee to exercise his executive power to adopt a clean fuels standard. 

The group's leaders spoke to reporters on Thursday in hopes of adding momentum to their efforts to follow in the footsteps of California and British Columbia.

WSHFC

Avi Jacobson was serving his first tour in Iraq in 2007 when he noticed his own unit's heavy reliance on a single generator. 

Jacobson’s Air Force base ran almost solely on the generator, which was overworked with computers and air conditioners almost daily. When the usage hit the generator’s tipping point, Jacobson said, “everything would die," triggering an eerie silence.

courtesy Andrea Matzke

Federal officials will be in Index this week to hear from the public about a controversial proposal for a new dam on the Skykomish River.

Representatives from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will tour the proposed dam site at Sunset Falls, and take public comments as part of the licensing process.

Courtesy Snohomish County PUD

Big dams that block rivers and salmon runs are out of vogue. But new legislation could clear the way for more small ones.

The removal of Washington’s Elwha dam — the largest dam removal in U.S. history — marked the end of an era in which big dams were embraced.

The owner of the largest coal-fired power plant in the Northwest has agreed to phase out coal-burning by the end of 2025.

Washington’s governor and environmental groups announced an agreement with TransAlta Corporation Saturday. Within hours, the Washington State Senate passed a bill to turn the deal into law.

Courtesy of Principle Power, Inc.

Ideas for harnessing the power of the Pacific Ocean to create clean energy are proliferating.  The rush of creativity is creating a flood of visits by electric engineers to coastal communities.