College Presidents Voice Concern on PSE Plan’s GHG Impacts

Date posted: August 28, 2013

This August, Bellevue College’s President David Rule along other higher education institutions voiced their concerns about consuming electricity produced from Puget Sound Energy’s (PSE) Colstrip Generating Facility in Eastern Montana. Coal-power creates a substantial carbon footprint for Bellevue College. While the college has invested in efficiency upgrades with the help of PSE conservation grants and our own small solar array, the continued burning of coal for PSE electricity increases BC’s carbon footprint to a great degree.

PSE supports renewable energy sources, and has been a partner with community institutions working to reduce energy consumption.  However their 20 year plan continues to include coal as a fuel source.  Coal is a costly fuel, threatening climate and community health.  As a State institution we face regulatory requirements to lower carbon emissions and President Obama recently announced there will be new rules on burning coal for power.

Bellevue College’s president, Dr. David Rule, was encouraged to speak out against coal when students voiced their concerns over the fuel-source in spring of 2013. Over 500 Bellevue College students, faculty, and staff signed a petition stating that they do not want coal-fired power on campus. This action on behalf of students was brought before the Associated Student Government (ASG) at Bellevue College, who also wrote to President Rule. They encouraged the College to voice concerns over PSE’s 20 year plan to continue burning coal. In doing so they may green not only our fuel supply but the larger community as well.

The opportunity to state concerns over coal arose through making formal comments on Puget Sound Energy’s Draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). The IRP is a planning document that Puget Sound Energy uses to explain how the utility estimates demand, pricing, and generation of its power. PSE must submit its Draft IRP to the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission – the regulating body for utilities. As a public organization, this the Commission must hold utilities accountable to public interests. The public has an opportunity to comment on such documents and plans. Accordingly, Bellevue College’s comments on the Draft IRP were submitted to the UTC.

President Rule did not stand alone in his leadership against coal-fired power. His commitment inspired two other community and technical college presidents to voice their concerns. Presidents at Cascadia Community College and Lake Washington Institute of Technology signed a letter that comments on PSE’s Draft IRP. This coalition of college leadership demonstrates that coal power is not in the best interest of community and technical colleges in Washington.

President Rule’s comments on PSE’s Draft IRP can be viewed on the Utilities and Transportation Commission’s website. Click on Puget Sound Energy. Then on Documents. You will be directed to a list of comments, and Dr. Rule’s joint letter with Cascadia and Lake Washington Presidents can be found there, as well as the comments of many other customers.