Puget Sound Energy: Phase out Colstrip coal plant by 2025

To prevent climate catastrophe, Washington State utilities must uphold ambitious climate commitments

An aerial view shows Colstrip power plants 1, 2, 3 and 4 and the Westmoreland coal mines near Colstrip. (http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/coal-plant-operator-says-colstrip-remains-profitable-for-now/article_ac724996-d0b9-5889-b5fb-f8ffa4afd130.html)

On August 31st 2017, in Olympia, Washington, concerned citizens will be given the chance to provide testimony and public comment regarding Puget Sound Energy’s (PSE) 2017 Rate Case — in respect to how PSE rolls over costs to Washington State energy customers. The PSE Rate Case is also an opportune time to strongly, publicly advocate for conservative and long-term climate change decision making.

Climate change is the defining problem of our time. As members of 500 Women Scientists here in Seattle, an international non-profit focused on science and public service, we advocate for PSE to pay off and close the remaining 2 coal-fired units in Colstrip, Montana by 2025.

Not only are we scientists and citizens, we are also customers of PSE — and in that regard we expect PSE to align and uphold meaningful climate commitments. We see analogous commitments from King County, Microsoft, Starbucks, Target, and REI, to transition away from coal towards clean, green energy by 2025. PSE should be among these regional leaders — fighting for energy solutions that do not risk the lives and livelihoods of our neighbors and our children. This is a basic civic duty — whether you are a utility, an institution, or an individual citizen.

Look at the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey — a hurricane made more dangerous and deadly because of climate change. We say: No More Climate Risk. No, to more frequent smoky-hot summers. No, to more intense wildfires. No, to more devastating Hurricane Harveys. We, as a state and as a society, do not have to court these terrible risks. But, changing course requires bold, decisive, insightful leadership.

We ask the Utilities and Transportation Commission to ensure that PSE is divested from Colstrip by 2025 — for the health and safety of our communities, our students, and our children. The risks of climate change are real, and they are at all of our doorsteps. To be sure, leading on climate action is difficult and full of short-term conflicting interests. However, in the long-term, we are all stewarding the energy, economies, and ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest for future generations. We all share the risks of climate disruption — but on our children’s shoulders sits the greatest risk. This is why we must act now.

We thank the Commission members for their time and attention,

Seattle 500 Women Scientists

(The statement above is a submitted written comment to Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission, regarding Puget Sound Energy’s 2017 Rate Case Hearing, Dockets UE-170033 & UG-170034)