A chart showing PSE’s expected energy requirements in the future. Coal will be phased out by 2026 and a 20-year hydro contract will expire in 2031. If it is not renewed the company could have to find some 2,011 megawatts by 2037.

A chart showing PSE’s expected energy requirements in the future. Coal will be phased out by 2026 and a 20-year hydro contract will expire in 2031. If it is not renewed the company could have to find some 2,011 megawatts by 2037.

Activists question PSE’s energy plan update at meeting

Puget Sound Energy representatives presented an annual update to their integrated resource plan.

Puget Sound Energy representatives were met with a crowded room at an Aug. 28 meeting at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue where they presented work on a resource management and acquisition plan update.

The plan, known as the integrated resource plan (IRP), forecasts long-term developments and estimates the amount of power the utility company — which provides electricity for the greater Eastside — will need to meet future demands. The Bellevue-based utility calculates this by forecasting the number of customers they expect to have in their system during a year and the amount of energy each customer will use as well as what peak-use loads could be.

In 2017, the amount of energy PSE estimated it would use was actually lower than the amount of energy consumed and 2019 figures are lower than 2017 estimates. PSE officials suggested this was due to more conservation efforts and people not being fully recovered from the 2008 economic downturn leading to less energy use to lower bills.

In addition, PSE integrated resources manager Phillip Popoff said the plan must include maximum peak use capacity in megawatts (mW) to supply customer demand during the highest use periods of the year. By 2020 the utility is also mandated by state law to meet 15 percent of its load by using renewable energy sources. Popoff said they would look at picking up additional renewable energy if it was financially feasible to do so.

“We will go out and acquire renewable energy in excess of the IRP,” he said, if it was cost effective.

Popoff said state law also mandates PSE should find the cheapest sources of energy for its customers. However, attendees at the meeting questioned how cost was calculated and urged PSE to incorporate costs associated with using dirty fuels like fossil fuel and coal into the total cost analysis when deciding where to source power.

PSE currently buys power from two coal plants, one in Centralia and the other in Colstrip, Montana. Both have come under scrutiny from environmental activists. The power utility company has a contract with the Centralia power plant that expires in 2025 when the plant will shut down in accordance with a state-negotiated settlement to shutter the plant.

The Colstrip plant is partially owned by PSE and is scheduled to shut down two boilers in 2022 and but there is no closure date for the remaining two units. However, for the last two months it has sat idle after being shut down by Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality for dirty emissions that exceeded air pollution regulations, according to the Billings Gazette. PSE currently gets 37 percent of its power from coal, 31 percent from hydroelectric power, 22 percent from natural gas and much of the rest from a mix of largely clean energy.

Doug Howell, a representative of the environmental group the Sierra Club, chided PSE representatives for continuing to use the Colstrip power plant even after its third closure in nine years.

“Now, after two months, you still don’t know what’s going on,” he said.

As the coal plants go offline, it will create a 272 mW deficit beginning in 2022 during the peak month of December and is expected to grow and need to be replaced either by clean energy or other sources. The one category of power that is projected to remain stable in the plan is natural gas, which has also come under scrutiny from indigenous groups and environmental activists.

Popoff said the use of natural gas could be reduced in the future. However, PSE is currently building a liquefied natural gas plant in Tacoma, despite intense opposition from a coalition of First Nations spearheaded by the Puyallup Tribe, the Seattle Times wrote.

During the comment period at the Aug. 28 meeting, multiple First Nations speakers addressed the PSE representatives over their use of coal as well as plans to build the natural gas facility.

“Don’t do it on the backs of my people, don’t do it on the lands of my ancestors,” said Pamela Cəlalàkəm Bond.

PSE will release the minutes from the Aug. 28 meeting by Sept. 20.

This story was corrected to state that two units at the Colstrip power plant will shut down in 2022 and that there is no closure date for the remaining two units.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@kirklandreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kirklandreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

King County assessor wants Legislature to fix laws to help small businesses

Changes needed because of COVID-19 impact on commercial properties

King County could be in Phase 2 in two weeks

The county is also hoping the state lets them reopen several businesses by Friday.

Exterior Kirkland City Hall. Blake Peterson/staff photo
City: Businesses in downtown, other commercial areas encouraged to remain closed through June 2

Update: Phase 1 businesses are now encouraged to reopen but remain vigilant.

Downtown Kirkland. Staff photo/Blake Peterson
Update: Kirkland officials strongly encouraging residents to stay out of downtown area, waterfront parks after 1 p.m.

The recommendations are in response to a potential protest in Downtown Kirkland at 2 p.m.

Businesses asked to close by 1 p.m., visitors to avoid commercial shopping areas

The City of Kirkland states it has received reports of being a possible target for looting

Downtown Kirkland. Blake Peterson/staff photo
How is COVID-19 impacting Kirkland?

King County has released city-specific data on case rates, unemployment filings and more.

Kabal Gill, owner of East India Grill in Federal Way, wears gloves to hand over take-out orders at his restaurant on March 23. File photo
New guidelines for Phase 2 reopenings in King County

All workers will need to wear masks as restaurants, retail shops and other businesses reopen.

This undated file photo provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows CDC’s laboratory test kit for the new coronavirus. Courtesy photo
Inslee wants nursing home residents and staff tested by June 12

Governor says state will pay for test kits and personal protective equipment.

Most Read