Commission Questions PSE Coal Plan

Date posted: February 14, 2014

On Thursday Feb. 6th, the Utilities and Transportation Commission requested that Puget Sound Energy reconsider keeping the Colstrip Coal-fired power plant online, following comments by Bellevue College, the Sierra Club, and thousands of area residents.

Bellevue College was the leader in the higher education sector’s call for Puget Sound Energy to retire the coal plant last year as part of public input on PSE’s Integrated Resource Plan – a 20 year plan for their energy supply – which must be approved by the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC).  The College’s greenhouse emissions are determined in part by PSE’s fuel mix.  Currently about 19% of BC’s greenhouse gas emissions are from electricity overall.

Dr. Rule, the President of Bellevue College, along with other college’s provided comments to the UTC highlighting the impacts of PSE’s use of coal in our own climate footprint.  Over 500 Bellevue College students, faculty, and staff signed a petition stating that they do not want coal-fired power on campus and the Associated Student Government testified at the commission hearing.

The Seattle Times reports that both financial and environmental concerns played into the UTC’s request to PSE.  Coal makes up nearly 30 percent of PSE’s energy portfolio.  The UTC noted the risks to PSE and its customers with continued investments in Colstrip by stating, “to embark on investments [in Colstrip] with so much uncertainty could be harmful to PSE, its ratepayers and the broader public interest.”