Bellingham and Whatcom County Public Utility District 1 are joining forces to tackle climate change by working together on renewable energy projects.
Under an interlocal agreement unanimously approved by Bellingham City Council on Monday, October 25, the city and PUD will pursue possible carbon reduction initiatives – which could include a study to identify renewable energy resources , energy conservation and efficiency initiatives, and other methods of reducing carbon emissions from the use of electricity, according to the text of the agreement.
“It takes more effort, it takes parallel efforts, to achieve our common goals of reducing the impacts of climate change,” Public Works Director Eric Johnston told City Council during a committee hearing on the ‘OK.
Bellingham approved a Climate Action Protect Plan in 2007, and recently set new goals to use 100% renewable energy over the next 10 to 15 years.
“We see that it is useful to look at this together. We have something in mind, but we are not quite ready to discuss it, ”he said.
PUD-1 provides water and electricity to commercial, industrial, agricultural and municipal customers and could provide water and electricity to the entire county.
But “this interlocal agreement must not supplant or replace PSE,” said Johnston.
Brian Walters, director of utility operations for PUD-1, said PUD currently gets 95% of its electricity from renewable, non-emitting sources.
PUD-1 Commissioner Grant said the district is considering adding solar power resources.
Bellingham city councilor Michael Lilliquist said he hopes the deal will result in new energy programs.
“To achieve our goals, we can’t just move the same power generation. We really need to create new power generation capacity, ”he said.