SEATTLE - Clean energy champions in Washington are marking a milestone
this month. A proposal to expand a coal plant in Utah has been
scrapped, and that's the 100th time in recent years that a planned coal
plant project has been turned down or such a plant has been retired.
The cancelled plan would have opened a third unit at the Intermountain
Power Project, a coal-fired plant near Delta, Utah.
Here in Washington, the controversial coal plant proposed for Kalama,
in the southwestern part of the state, is also part of the tally. It
was scrapped in May. Ethan Bergerson, associate regional representative
with the Sierra Club in Seattle, says grassroots pressure and upcoming
federal carbon regulations have contributed to the decisions.
"This sends a really clear economic signal. Investors are no longer
looking at coal as a viable solution to our energy needs. The real
solution is clean energy and energy efficiency."
Bergerson says while the Kalama plant is off the table, the state still
has work to do to lower pollution levels from coal plants already on
line. The one in Centralia is in the group's sights, because it emits
10 percent of the state's global warming pollution.
"The TransAlta coal plant about 15 miles west of Mount Rainier is
responsible for hurting Washington by affecting public health and
degrading our environment."
Critics say renewable energy development will drive up prices for
consumers, but Bergerson says helping people use less electricity will
mean lower utility bills. Washington state law requires that any new
power plant be at least as clean as a natural gas-fired plant, or be
able to permanently store the pollution it makes.