Local power utility makes no sense | Letter to the editor

To the editor:

Mr. Tom Goodwin’s letter published on Dec. 16 unfortunately contains both misinformation and disinformation.

He posits that creating a Bainbridge Island Power utility would free us from polluting power sources. Not so. By switching from PSE to BPA we would only pay for allegedly pollution free hydro power, which is anything but pollution free.

The reservoirs are unfortunately major producers of methane gas due to decomposing biomass which water sources flush into them. Then the idea that switching to hydro power would necessarily be cheap and effective is disingenuous.

Nearly half of Pacific Northwest community power utilities charge more than PSE. Even though a 50 MW block of power would be available, Bainbridge Island used 86 MW last winter.

BPA could accommodate us, though we might be using nuclear generated power which provides 9 percent of BPA’s power.

Still, coal-fired power plants would continue to be required and the PNW’s pollution problems would not be affected meaningfully.

Fortunately, the Colstrip, Montana power plant will be closing two of its four units in 2022 and Washington’s only coal fired plant in Centralia is scheduled to close in 2025. They will need to be replaced by natural gas plants as there is nothing else technically capable of generating that amount of power in the near term.

On top of that, BPA power would co-mingle with PSE power in transmission so we may just wind up with coal-sourced electricity no matter what.

As for Microsoft, they have claimed to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy since 2014, but there’s more to the story. Their two major wind power purchases are in Texas and Illinois, to power their nearby data centers. They also purchase Renewable Energy Certificates to cover their other expenditures, but we don’t know where that power is generated and who uses it. So while it sounds nice in a publicity statement, the net effect for PNW pollution is a resounding zero. Misinformation and disinformation. Judging by the experiences of Jefferson County, instituting a Bainbridge Island Power utility would be more expensive than current costs and would do absolutely nothing to address PNW pollution.

Finally, with the city’s record of utility performance, why would anyone trust them with this infinitely larger responsibility?

VARON MULLIS

Bainbridge Island

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