The Bonneville Power Administration’s hydropower-based system provides Snohomish County PUD and other Pacific Northwest utilities the cleanest energy in the nation, according to a recent study.
Snohomish County PUD serves 352,000 electric customers and is BPA’s largest customer, receiving more than 82% of its power needs from the federal agency. Based on the Washington State Department of Commerce data for 2018, the PUD’s electricity supply is comprised of nearly 98% carbon-free fuels.
“The PUD is proud to be a national leader in clean energy,” said PUD CEO/GM John Haarlow. “Renewable and carbon-free hydropower, whether it’s from BPA or PUD-owned and operated hydro facilities, is the backbone of our energy supply and is what allows us to keep our customers and communities energized with low-cost, reliable, environmentally sustainable and safe power.”
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) evaluated the country’s 20 largest electric regions on production- and consumption-based emissions from U.S. electricity providers and found BPA’s to be the lowest in the nation. BPA provides about 28% of the electric power used in the Northwest, most of that coming from more than 30 federal hydro projects.
“(Hydropower) not only meets today’s demand for clean energy but also provides the platform for meeting the region’s future goals by integrating intermittent renewable resources like wind and solar onto our grid,” said Scott Simms, executive director of the Public Power Council, a non-profit organization that represents the interests of consumer-owned utilities.
Since adopting a climate change policy in 2007, the PUD Board of Commissioners has invested heavily in energy efficiency, renewable energy like wind and solar, and clean energy technologies like battery storage. Those decisions have minimized the PUD’s environmental impact and reduced the percentage of its power supply that is greenhouse gas emitting from 12% in 2008 to 2% a decade later.
“The PUD was one of the first utilities in the nation to recognize the effects of climate change and implement a policy with the intent to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said PUD Board of Commissioners President Sid Logan. “The guiding principles and strategies outlined in that policy led the PUD to become a national leader in renewable energy.”
In addition to BPA’s clean energy supply, the PUD has increased its own renewable generation portfolio, energizing a pair of low-impact hydroelectric facilities near North Bend and a 500-kilowatt solar array in Arlington, and renewing contracts with biomass and biodigester facilities in Darrington and Monroe.
Earlier this month, the PUD kicked off its 2021 Integrated Resource Plan process at its Headquarters in downtown Everett. The PUD has incorporated customer representatives to participate in the futures and scenario development phase of this long-term planning process. Additional customer input will be solicited through surveys and a business customer panel.
The PUD conducts this comprehensive long-term planning effort every four years with the objective of how the utility can best plan for and meet its customers’ energy needs 20 years into the future. This will be the first IRP to incorporate the state’s Clean Energy Transformation Act, which targets a carbon neutral standard by 2030 and a target of achieving 100% clean energy by 2045. The new state law requires that 3,000 to 4,000 megawatts of baseload coal generation serving the state be retired by 2025.
For more information about PUD hydro projects, click here.