To the editor:
My friends with the “Bainbridge Municipal Power” movement are admirably concerned about climate change. The main reason given to divest from Puget Sound Energy is its coal burning power plants in Montana.
Their alternative is to create a “Municipal Utility District” that can buy its power from the Bonneville Power Authority. The BPA generates its power from multiple dams and is considered “green power.”
But, maybe not so green. Dams impede salmon migration and spawning. Salmon are a vital link of the food chain in both the fresh and salt waters of earth.
The Elwha River dam reclamation project demonstrates how quickly salmon returned to the upper reaches beyond the dams for spawning. In just two years there are strong signs of salmon recovery in the entire Elwha River basin.
The BPA manages dams on the Snake and Columbia rivers that are not essential for navigation, flood control or power generation. Some could be breached in order to help restore salmon populations. With all of the cleaner alternatives to power generation, we don’t need hydropower as much as we need salmon.
Another alternative is for citizens to generate clean residential power by investing in a utility on their homes or businesses. I have a solar utility on my home. The Harbour Public House is demonstrating a utility that converts food waste into power and fertilizer. These approaches mitigate the problems of both the coal-burning power plants and the dams that impede salmon reproduction for power. Its clean power you can use and get paid by PSE for generating. PSE has been in the forefront of providing incentives for clean residential power generation for years.
Concern about climate change is moving us in the direction of calculating the environmental impacts of our everyday activities. If we are to act on climate change, then keep the incentives that support residential power generation like the PSE program. A Municipal Utility District can not give cash incentives to individual citizens for any reason, including the power subsidy for seniors and low income families.
PSE is required to return money to it’s customers to incentivize residential power generation. This year they committed $10 million as incentive for residential power generation.
That is what they budgeted for. They actually produced 110 percent of their goal for 2021. Which meant I had to take a 10 percent cut in the price PSE pays me for my production. Personally, I don’t mind sharing some of the tangible benefits of power production with other like-minded citizens.
Both the state of Washington and PSE have made commitments to put an end to relying on coal-burning power plants by 2021. We are moving in the right direction. Let us not fall back on old technology hydropower when we can advance to even cleaner, greener residential power production.
The $30,000 investment I financed three years ago has been paid down to less than $5,000 with the Federal and PSE incentives I have received. I produce 118 percent of my household use. So, I was able to get an electric car which also reduces my “carbon footprint.”
Let’s see, zero emission transportation, PSE gets a good price for my power, I get a check from PSE and I stop paying for power. This is a better utility! This is a better investment.