Mixing ‘green’ and ‘dirty’ power | Letter to the editor

To the editor:

Several recent letters to the editor have noted that “green” power and “dirty” power (mainly coal) inevitably come from their respective generating sources to Bainbridge Island via the same electric power transmission lines. They imply that if our island votes this year to disconnect from Puget Sound Energy and reconnect to much cleaner Bonneville Power Authority power sources, we would still be paying for and getting the same dirty power. If this were the case, however, those good souls who have opted to pay extra on their PSE bill to receive green power have been deceived and have actually gained nothing toward reducing the greenhouse gases and other toxic byproducts coming from PSE’s coal-fired power plants.

Fortunately, this could not be more untrue. Suppose our island decides to buy power from BPA instead of PSE. Because your monthly bill no longer pays PSE, they would have to throttle back production at their fossil fuel power plants by the amount Bainbridge Island now consumes, or try to sell it to someone else. Following the national trend of declining coal-fired electricity, much of it due to the high cost of meeting environmental regulations, PSE then may well decrease production at their two dirtiest coal plants sooner than the 2022 deadline. If this were to occur, the effect of our switch to cleaner BPA power would be a reduction in greenhouse gas production of up to 215,000 tons annually.

Yes, transmission lines would continue to carry PSE’s dirty power for the sake of their other customers, but we would no longer be paying for it on our electric bills. We would all be better off purchasing power from a public utility untainted by the byproducts of burning coal: greenhouse gases and a plethora of toxic pollutants poisoning air, water and soil. A Bainbridge Electric Board community-owned utility would deliver 97 percent carbon free BPA power to our island. That’s worth doing.

DELYLE ELLEFSON

Bainbridge Island

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