News

PUD plans for renewable energy investments

by MATTHEW NASH
Sequim Gazette



Whether by air, sea or sun, Clallam County Public Utility District needs renewable energy.
Mattias Järvegren, utility services advisor for PUD, said they'll be actively pursuing renewable energy for at least the next 10 years.
He said the Energy Independence Act I-937, passed by voters in 2006, went into effect on Jan. 1, 2010.
It requires the PUD to invest 15 percent of its electricity costs toward new renewable resources by 2020 and to undertake cost-effective energy conservation.
Guidelines state the PUD must invest 3 percent of its usage to renewable energy by Jan. 1, 2012, before progressively increasing to a 9-percent investment from Jan. 1, 2016-Dec. 31, 2019.
The PUD must meet the 15-percent threshold in 2020 or be severely penalized.
In 2010, the utility needs to save about 5,000,000 kilowatt-hours or 4 percent of its total annual retail revenue cost cap.
To help meet these goals, PUD has promoted conservation through its users by sending out 125,000 compact fluorescent lamps, or bulbs, to Clallam County residents.


Investment options

Järvegren said the bulbs were cheaper than investing in other renewable energies such as solar and wind power right now.
He explained that for the PUD to buy solar energy it costs about 12 cents per kilowatt-hour, wind at 9 cents, heat pumps at 3 cents, insulated windows at 2 cents, and the light bulbs at 1 cent.
Bonneville Power Association, from which the PUD buys most of its energy, charged about 4 cents per kilowatt-hour before recently increasing rates.
"Hydroelectric as a resource is very flexible and the most available resource in our region," Järvegren said. "We want to rely on dams as much as possible because anything else would cost more."
PUD staff doesn't anticipate wind and solar costs going down.
"The demand for those is going through the roof as more states creates tax incentives," Järvegren said.
He admits solar is efficient but expensive at the upstart but the variability of it and wind doesn't comply with the utility's need.
"We need the power whenever our customers use it," Järvegren said.
When asked about the practicality for wave and tidal power in the near future, he said the ideas are a little premature and there are no large-scale projects in the world.
Järvegren said geo-
thermal is another reliable resource but very limited and biomass has a lot of high capacity, but a lot of what ifs.


Needed savings

By 2012, PUD must increase its savings to about 11 million kilowatt-hours and about 13 million kilowatt-hours in 2013.
"Energy conservation is what we should put all our efforts into first," Järvegren said.
The PUD has created outlets for state incentive opportunities with rebates for businesses and residences such as new Energy Star(r) windows, air and duct sealing, heat pumps, insulation, water heaters, appliances, lighting and more.
"We're not allowed to tell people how to use their energy, but we can create incentives to help them," Järvegren said.
At the end of this year, the PUD will evaluate how much savings the bulbs contributed to the I-937 act.
Järvegren said people can receive the bulbs but it doesn't mean they'll use them.
"The ideal situation is saving as much as possible in a home," he said. "We'd like to see all (energy saving opportunities) done." Fred Mitchell, manager of PUD power supply and utility services, said some people don't know about their benefits/ rebates even though they've been running for 30 years.


Investment opportunities
For the remainder of its renewable energy plan, PUD is planning to sign a power purchase agreement in renewable energy for dairy biogas; solar energy from Eastern Oregon; biomass through Nippon Paper Mill; and geothermal energy, which taps hot water to process or produce steam.
For more information on energy saving rebates, visit www.clallampud.net or call Mattias Järvegren at 565-3263.


PUD increases rates by 8-percent

Clallam County Public Utility District commissioners approved an 8-percent increase in electricity rates Oct. 25.
Bonneville Power Administration raised wholesale power rates to the PUD by 4.95 percent in October 2009 and to about 10 percent on Oct. 1.
New rates go into effect on bills after Dec. 1.
Last year, commissioners voted not to increase rates due to the poor economy.
PUD staff said absorbing the increase again was not a viable decision because of rising costs attributed to required maintenance and new mandates like state Initiative 937 that progressively requires more power from renewable sources by 2020.
The average PUD customer using 1,400 kilowatt-hours per month will see an increase of about $8 per month.
For more information, visit www.clallampud.net or call 452-9771.



We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Dec 17
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates