PUD extends its green power goals

EVERETT — Two years ago, the Snohomish County PUD received no wind power.

When the last of its three recent wind purchases goes online this spring, the PUD will receive 8.5 percent of its energy from wind power.

“This demonstrates our ongoing commitment to adding clean, renewable energy sources to our energy portfolio,” PUD General Manager Steve Klein said in a written statement.

Voter-approved Initiative 937 requires major utilities like the PUD to get 15 percent of their power from renewable, non-hydroelectric sources by 2020.

Because the PUD is ahead of schedule in meeting the mandate, it can sell so-called renewable energy credits. Those credits should bring the utility $2.2 million this year.

Wind isn’t the only renewable energy resource the PUD is pursuing.

The utility is also studying geothermal and tidal power development. Starting in March it will offer a total of $1 million in incentives for customers to install solar panels on their homes.

It will also continue to offer incentives for conservation, including rebates for purchasing power-saving appliances.

The utility entered into two agreements last week with an Oregon subsidiary of the Spanish wind energy company Iberdrola Renewables Inc. to purchase wind energy from a new wind project along Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge.

The capacity of the project is 100.8 megawatts. The project is expected to provide enough power annually for 20,000 homes.

PUD officials would not disclose the financial terms of the 15- and 18-year-wind power contracts.

Wind power, the chief non-hydro renewable available today, costs significantly more than hydro power.

Klein during a recent PUD Board of Commissioners meeting said the going rate for wind power is about $100 per megawatt hour. Hydroelectric power, by contrast, about $40 per megawatt hour.

Between 2004 and 2008, there were huge increases in the cost of wind energy, driven in part by rapid growth and commodity consumption in the developing world, said Jeff King, a senior resource analyst with the Northwest Power and Planning Council.

Beginning in late 2008, prices began to come down, he said.

David Chircop: 425-339-3429 or dchircop@heraldnet.com.

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