The Skagit Valley Herald ran a front-page story on Sunday that finally linked our project with another issue--proposed public (PUD) ownership of the county's electrical system; the first few paragraphs of overview are available online (with the more in-depth section unfortunately limited to subscribers only).
Our local public utility district has pitched its bid to take over the electrical system as a win-win initiative that will cut power bills while also defying Puget Sound Energy's plan to sell itself to Australian investors. Almost as an afterthought, PUD leaders also claimed on several occasions that they would be better supporters of green power as well.
I detailed our doubts on PUD support for green power in a March posting; more recently, we have been attending public forums where we have continued to contrast Puget Sound Energy's proven record on renewable energy with the less-enthusiastic support from government-run utilities, most notably Snohomish County PUD. Almost everyone likes the idea of local renewable energy, but we still don't seem to have convinced the pro-PUD side to grapple with the green power reality--it's not free, and developers don't start projects just based on nice words.
Local renewable energy simply does not happen without active, tangible, and bankable utility support. We have been working closely with Puget Sound Energy's green power team for almost a year and a half; they offer a regulator-approved contract that will pay about eight cents for every kilowatt-hour we will produce between now and 2018. This is the sort of support that convinced Shorebank Pacific to make a large loan commitment for our project; only at this level of support can anyone justify investing millions of dollars in a manure digester. For the sake of energy consumers, farmers, and local economies, we hope the Northwest's utilities will all follow PSE's lead and take clear action in support of green power.