The battle to end the use of coal as an energy resource has been ongoing for decades, yet in a time where technology and investments in renewable and clean energy resources are bountiful and the transition to move entirely away from coal is at its peak, some energy companies plan to keep using dirty coal, regardless of the detrimental effects on our health and our environment. I am thrilled to announce that the Bellevue College (BC) students have taken the lead in making Bellevue College a coal-free campus. Currently 24% of Bellevue College’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) comes from electricity consumption which is tied to our utilities’ use of coal.
Puget Sound Energy’s (PSE) Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) is extensive document that examines energy fuels for the next twenty years. The plan refuses to move entirely away from coal and unequivocally invest in renewable energy resources. The IRP, which finds that continuing operation of the coal-fired Colstrip Generating Station in Eastern Montana remains the best option, fails to fully consider the cost of pending EPA regulations announced by President Obama and Washington State’s own GHG targets and study on reducing emissions.
In the Spring of 2013, BC students gathered 500 signatures from students, faculty and staff, asking that as customers, PSE divest and abandon their operation of coal-fired power plants in Eastern Montana. In the summer of 2013 Bellevue College Associated Student Government signed a letter to the Utilities and Transportation Commission to consider the increasing cost of coal in the IRP and the implications of continuing to use coal on greenhouse gas emissions.
While PSE has taken great steps towards introducing alternative and cleaner sources of energy for its customers with continued investments in local wind farms, hydroelectric dams, residential solar arrays, and other programs, around one-third of the energy powering the homes and businesses of PSE’s customers continues to originate from coal, largely from the Colstrip Generating Station in Eastern Montana.
The next steps will be to comment on the IRP itself and to encourage other colleges to join us. The Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) which regulate the rates and services of private or investor-owned utility and transportation companies is obligated to seek public comment on those IRPs plans. BC has drafted a document with comments and plans to send it to the UTC prior to the deadline August 16th and encourage our readers to get involved and do the same.
To get involved please email me at Sophia.email@example.com or call me at (425)564-2234.
You can find the IRP plan and BC’s comments regarding the IRP below: