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clean energy economy

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 / 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. 

Jackie Johnston, File / AP Photo

California made headlines this week as Governor Jerry Brown signed a pledge to get all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2045. Clean energy advocates in Washington State say we can do it here too.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Many medium-sized businesses that consume large amounts of electricity may want to shrink their reliance on fossil fuels by committing to using solar or wind power. But their needs are often beyond what their local utility can provide from fully renewable sources.

A Seattle startup has launched a new online marketplace to address these issues and support the growth of clean energy developments, by matching smaller investors with projects that meet their needs.

Rick Bowmer / AP Photo

A public hearing on Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposal to tax fossil fuel emissions takes place Tuesday in Olympia. A coalition of environmental groups is urging people to go and organizing carpools to ensure a strong turnout.

They say the governor’s carbon tax is just one of at least three climate policies they want to see action on this session. And two groups have new polling data to back that up.

Alternative energy and the companies that support it are here to stay, despite the changing politics in the other Washington. That was the sentiment as the state’s CleanTech Alliance held its annual meeting in Seattle.

The group, which lobbies on behalf of the sector, is getting ready to celebrate ten years since its founding. And over the last six years, the organization has grown from just 35 members in 2010.  

“And now we’re just about 300. So almost 10-time factor of growth,” said CleanTech Alliance President and CEO Tom Ranken.

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

When you start talking with David Kirtley, don’t be surprised if you suddenly feel like you’re in a comic strip.  

Kirtley is the CEO of Redmond-based Helion Energy, and his business plan sounds like fantasy. He says the potential for solving all of our energy problems is contained in what looks like just a drop of water.

Washington Department of Commerce photo

Imagine a future in which a third of our nation’s electricity came from wind power. Activists around the country say that’s possible in the next 15 years. Here in Washington, it would mean getting eight times more electricity from windmills.

That’s according to a new report from Environment Washington, the organization that has been spearheading policies to phase out disposable plastic shopping bags here and all over the country. The group, which is part of a nationwide network, released its report, titled More Wind, Less Warming, in about 20 states simultaneously this week.

Riex / Flickr via Compfight

A delegation from Germany recently paid Washington’s clean tech lobby a visit. At a meeting in Seattle, the delegation, whose country's emphasis on renewable energy has made it a global leader in the sector, presented some of the lessons local companies are learning from the German example.

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.

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.

courtesy PNNL

When you turn on your tap or shower in the morning or run your washing machine at night, you probably aren’t thinking much about how many other people in the area are doing the same thing.

But when it’s cold outside, use of electric heaters for hot water often pushes peak loads to the brink for local utilities.

That’s where so-called smart-grid technology could come in and save the day. The idea, which increases energy efficiency and saves everyone money, is being put to the test on Fox Island, near Tacoma.

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.

mage courtesy of Sheraton Seattle Hotel Facebook page.

Already known as a leader in sustainable architecture, Seattle is teaming up with Microsoft to take green building to the next level with the help of big-data computing.

When you think of the clean energy economy, military barracks and mortar launchers probably aren’t the first things that come to mind.

But local clean energy boosters say the use of solar panels and biodiesel by the Department of Defense could be the key to getting more of these technologies off the ground.

Two years ago, the DOD created a new office, with a goal of reducing energy use by the U.S. military.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

Most people who pay their own energy bills know that power is expensive. But where it’s coming from and how much it costs is often more mysterious.

That could change if technology that’s part of a demonstration project at the University of Washington catches on. It’s co funded by the US Department of Energy. The U-dub is the largest of 16 demo sites creating a new Pacific Northwest Smart Grid.

Jennifer Wing / KPLU

You already know what  recycling  is. Soon you will start hearing more about upcycling. No, it doesn’t involve going up a steep hill on a bike. Upcycling is one of the focuses of this week's Seattle Design Festival and a good example of what it is can be found in an old wooden warehouse in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood. 

The Pacific Northwest has made headlines for its efforts to become the first coal-free region in the United States. Washington’s last coal-fired power plant, in Centralia, is scheduled to be shut down by 2025.

Yet one of the region’s largest utilities still derives more than a third of its power from coal.

PORTLAND - If you thought the great dam building era of the Northwest was long over, you might be mistaken. But we're not talking about damming rivers here. This is about building long earthen dams to make new off-stream hydropower reservoirs. They're being designed to act as giant batteries and shock absorbers for the electric grid.

Photo by Hugo90 / Flickr

Renewable energy is growing on trees in Washington – and right now, much of it is going up in smoke.

That’s the word from Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, who has just released the results of a study on forest biomass.

You might call it harnessing the power of the moon.

Ocean energy is electricity that is generated when the power of tides, waves and currents moves turbines and windmills. It’s an idea that’s caught on already in Oregon. And there are plans on the horizon to bring it to Washington. 

Columbia Power Technologies

An Oregon-based alternative energy company is one step closer to generating electricity from the ocean's waves. The company has launched a prototype wave energy buoy. For testing, the startup chose the gentler waters of Puget Sound.

AP

It was time to put up or shut up. Delegates to the United Nations climate conference in Cancun knew if they came out of the talks empty-handed, the whole effort to reach a global warming treaty could collapse. The agreement that emerged over the past weekend made just enough progress to keep the talks alive for another year.