Big meeting calls for Carbon Free PSE
Last night, hundreds of concerned citizens, environmental organizations, faith groups, and “raging grannies” attended a “rate case hearing” held by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission at Bellevue City Hall. At issue was a request by Puget Sound Energy to raise our electricity rates by about two bucks every month.
Dozens of speakers uniformly objected to an increase in rates while PSE pursues “business as usual,” including the continued operation of two of the dirtiest coal plants in the country. As you read this, PSE is trying to sign long-term coal contracts that would require a significant expansion of a strip mine near Colstrip, Montana after 2025. Many speakers noted the hypocrisy of our state saying we will abide by the Paris Agreement to limit carbon emissions while relying on electricity that is polluting the air in Montana and poisoning the water so badly that tap water can no longer be consumed in nearby communities.
When it was my turn to speak (I was number 40 on the list of speakers!), I noted that recent developments in battery technology would allow us to bank extra electricity produced by wind and solar farms, and then use that electricity during peak demand hours instead of burning fossil fuels. This safe, cost-effective solution would also eliminate the need for PSE’s despised “Energize Eastside” transmission line. If you’re curious to hear what a forward-thinking utility in Vermont is doing with residential batteries, check out this article from the New York Times: Utility Helps Wean Vermonters From the Electric Grid
There was one major disappointment at the hearing: the complete absence of Bellevue City Council members or any recognizable staff. Council members from Kirkland, Kenmore, and Woodinville spoke up. We have a council member who represents Bellevue on the K4C committee (King County cities dedicated to carbon reduction). We asked her to attend the hearing. She declined.
Our council often adopts the attitude “whatever is good for PSE is good for Bellevue.” Bellevue residents want to lead the nation in smart, clean energy (#CarbonFreePSE), but council members instead cater to the wishes of the multi-billion-dollar corporation whose headquarters is literally across the street from City Hall. When will this change?