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Edmonds commits to 100 percent clean renewable energy


Last updated 7/13/2017 at Noon

The Edmonds City Council last week approved a resolution establishing a community-wide goal of transitioning to 100 percent clean and renewable energy by 2025.

Audacious but possible, according to Councilmember Mike Nelson.

“This is a very achievable goal because the majority of our electricity in Edmonds, 80 percent, currently comes from renewable energy sources,” he said. “Snohomish County PUD is working on some exciting renewable energy opportunities for cities that they hope to be revealing in the near future.”

Renewable energy, Nelson said, includes energy derived from hydrogen, wind power placed in ecologically responsible ways, solar, existing and low-impact hydroelectric, geothermal, biogas (including biogas produced from biomass), and ocean-wave technology sources.

The resolution also is part of a Sierra Club campaign, Ready for 100, that looks to get cities to make 100 percent clean energy commitments, Sierra Club spokesman Caleb Heering said. “It’s great to see municipalities like Edmonds stepping up to fill the void left by the federal government on clean energy.”

The Beacon asked Heering if it’s possible for Edmonds to achieve 100 percent clean and renewable energy, as the various types of energy all flow into the same power grid.

“I can't speak to Snohomish County PUD's plans or the exact technical issues between Edmonds and SnoPUD,” he said, “but if enough of their customer base demanded the switch to cleaner energy like Edmonds did, they would probably have to consider either pressuring BPA to clean up their energy mix, or find other sources independently.

“There is also precedent for cities or companies bypassing utilities and essentially contracting with them to transmit cleaner energy on their lines. Microsoft is seeking to do this with Puget Sound Energy right now.”

The resolution passed 5-1, with Buckshnis absent and Councilmember Neil Tibbott voting no. “The bottom line,” Tibbott said, “is that we have no idea what this will cost. Who will pay for it. And there was no public input.”

It comes five weeks after Mayor Dave Earling announced that he had joined the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda, joining Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson as Snohomish County representatives.

Created to denounce President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, the organization’s goal is to take real action on climate change.

It was founded by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, former Houston Mayor Annise Parker and former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter to commit U.S. mayors to work together to strengthen local efforts for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and to support efforts for binding federal and global-level policy making.

More than 350 mayors nationwide have signed up.

Now, Edmonds represents the first city or town in Washington state to commit to 100 percent renewable energy and the 37th city in the country to make the commitment.

Edmonds’ move to 100 percent renewable energy comes after the U.S. Conference of Mayors approved a resolution that establishes support from the nation’s mayors for the goal of moving to 100 percent clean and renewable energy in cities nationwide.

It was the Mayor’s Climate Protection Committee, established in 2006 by then-Mayor Gary Haakenson and featuring community volunteers and city staff, that asked the City Council to reaffirm its commitment to environment protection locally.

In 2010, the city developed a Climate Action Plan. The plan is intended to serve as an ongoing guide to reduce the Edmonds community's contributions to greenhouse gas emissions while encouraging the city's future sustainability.

Nelson and Councilmember Buckshnis developed the resolution.

“The majority of harmful greenhouse gas emissions come from cities, but it doesn’t have to be this way,” Nelson said. “Whether you are a small city, like Edmonds, or a large city, the infrastructure is in place to shift to clean, renewable energy. We hope every city in our state joins us and flips the switch to renewable energy."

Edmonds receives power from the Snohomish Public Utility District, which receives most of its power from the Bonneville Power Administration. In 2015, about 10 percent of that energy came from nuclear sources, with small amounts of coal and natural gas (less than 2 percent) likely included.

The resolution establishes the following renewable energy goals for both municipal facilities and for the city at large:

  • 100 percent renewable energy for municipal facilities by 2019; and,
  • 100 percent renewable energy for the city’s community electricity supply by 2025.

By Nov. 1 of next year, the Planning Department is required to develop a work plan, including options, methods and financial resources needed, and an associated timeline and milestones to achieve those renewable energy goals.

“With the federal government working against our clean energy future, leadership on climate action is going to have to come from cities and states,” said Victoria Leistman, associate organizer for the Sierra Club. She helped the city draft the resolution.

“Kudos to Councilman Nelson and the many dedicated climate activists of Edmonds for standing up to Donald Trump and making bold, decisive commitments to clean energy.”

According to a Sierra Club analysis, if cities belonging to the U.S. Conference of Mayors were to transition to 100 percent clean and renewable electricity, it would reduce electric carbon emissions by more than that of the five worst carbon polluting U.S. states combined.

If the 100 percent energy targets were achieved by 2025, the Sierra Club adds, the total electric sector carbon pollution reductions would fill anywhere from 87 percent to 110 percent of the remaining reductions the United States would need to achieve in order to meet the goals of the Paris agreement.


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