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BI coal critics join PSE protest

Seventeen members of Coal-Free Bainbridge took part in a demonstration against Puget Sound Energy Thursday, May 30 along the I-90 bridge. The protest included an inflatable coal barge, which greeted passers-by on the bridge. - Photo courtesy of Erika Shriner
Seventeen members of Coal-Free Bainbridge took part in a demonstration against Puget Sound Energy Thursday, May 30 along the I-90 bridge. The protest included an inflatable coal barge, which greeted passers-by on the bridge.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Erika Shriner

Activists took to the I-90 bridge recently to float an idea past commuters.

And they weren’t blowing smoke.

An inflatable coal barge graced the waters of Lake Washington Thursday, May 30 as 17 members of Coal-Free Bainbridge and other activists demonstrated against Puget Sound Energy’s recent plans to continue using coal-based fuel for the next 20 years.

Coal-Free Bainbridge, an organization founded a little more than a year ago, aims to put an end to PSE’s reliance on coal. Coal-fired power plants, scientists say, are one of the leading causes of climate change, and the Bainbridge group joined with the Sierra Club and local protesters to call out PSE’s practices.

“Those of us from Bainbridge were thrilled to be part of this event,” said Erika Shriner, co-chairwoman of Coal-Free Bainbridge.

“All of our members share the belief that we can’t afford the luxury of simply talking and worrying about climate change,” she said. “What we desperately need now is activists who are willing to work toward solutions such as helping to get PSE off of coal and replace it with clean energy such as wind and solar. We’re quickly running out of time.”

While the last coal plant in Washington state is becoming an anachronism, the Colstrip power plant in Montana, the largest such plant in the western U.S., is partly owned by PSE and generates about one-third of the electricity for Bainbridge Island and the surrounding area.

PSE did not respond to a request for comment.

The day of the demonstration was timed to correspond with PSE’s adoption of its Integrated Resource Plan, which serves as a “long-term forecast of the lowest reasonable cost combination of resources necessary to meet the needs of Puget Sound Energy’s customers over the next 20 years.”

“Conditions may change in the future, but for this planning cycle, it does not appear PSE should begin developing resources to replace Colstrip,” the plan reads.

Activists took aim with the Bellevue-based utility’s continued reliance on coal.

“PSE currently has the land and the permits to add enough wind generation to quit coal. We think the time to do that is now and not 20 years from now,” Shriner said.

“I think the motivation for most of our members is our children and grandchildren.” she added. “I don’t know how anyone who cares about young people can sit on the sidelines at this point given what we know about climate change. It’s a problem we created – we have a responsibility to solve it and not leave a climate in chaos for future generations to deal with.”

Community Events, April 2014

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