Climate Activists Protest Puget Sound Energy Plan To Keep Using Coal

Activists gather outside the Renton Community Center to protest Puget Sound Energy's plan to continue using electricity from coal.
Activists gather outside the Renton Community Center to protest Puget Sound Energy's plan to continue using electricity from coal. CREDIT: Eilís O'Neill, KUOW/EarthFix

About one hundred activists gathered Wednesday to protest Puget Sound Energy’s plan to keep producing electricity from coal until 2035.

PSE is the company that likely keeps your lights and Wifi on if you live in the Puget Sound area but not in Seattle. The activists’ main concern was climate change.

Unlike Seattle City Light, which relies on hydroelectric dams, PSE gets about a third of its energy from coal — and activists have been trying to change that for years. They enjoyed partial success when the company agreed to shut down its two dirtiest Montana coal plants by 2022.

But that plan leaves two coal plants still online.
The public had the chance to comment on the company’s 20-year plan today. Many of the commenters critiqued PSE’s methods for evaluating how much coal, wind, and other options would cost, saying coal is getting more expensive and renewables cheaper all the time.

Montana state Representative Denise Hayman attended the meeting to urge PSE to stop relying on coal.
“I’m here to promote Montana wind,” Hayman said. “We have great wind in Montana, and we could be providing that to Washington at a very reasonable cost.”

Puget Sound Energy declined to make anyone available to comment, but its 20-year plan indicates coal’s the cheapest option — unless Washington passes a carbon tax. That would make renewable options cheaper than coal.

February 21 was the public’s chance to comment on Puget Sound Energy’s 20-year plan. Utility regulators will weigh in with their opinion some time in the next two months.

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