energy

Washington Department of Commerce photo

Imagine a future in which a third of our nation’s electricity came from wind power. Activists around the country say that’s possible in the next 15 years. Here in Washington, it would mean getting eight times more electricity from windmills.

That’s according to a new report from Environment Washington, the organization that has been spearheading policies to phase out disposable plastic shopping bags here and all over the country. The group, which is part of a nationwide network, released its report, titled More Wind, Less Warming, in about 20 states simultaneously this week.

Courtesy of Snohomish County PUD

Snohomish County Public Utility District has pulled the plug on its high-profile research project to develop technology that harnesses the tides to generate electrical power. The utility says the U.S. Department of Energy was not willing to share in escalating costs for the project.

It was to be located in Admiralty Inlet, west of Whidbey Island.

The federal agency committed in 2006 to cover a fixed dollar amount that, at the time, covered half of the total bill for the tidal energy project. But it was not clear how to cover increased costs for materials and new mandates for studies, and the DOE said Friday it would provide no additional funding for the effort.

Riex / Flickr via Compfight

A delegation from Germany recently paid Washington’s clean tech lobby a visit. At a meeting in Seattle, the delegation, whose country's emphasis on renewable energy has made it a global leader in the sector, presented some of the lessons local companies are learning from the German example.

Courtesy Pacific Science Center

It looks a bit like something you might find in a book by Dr. Seuss: five huge sculpted sunflowers with striped green and orange stems.

The new installation outside Seattle’s Pacific Science Center is meant to draw in and educate the public about solar power. 

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

At a time when Washington state has been making headlines for the largest dam removal project ever on the Elwha River, Snohomish County is proposing a new one.

The Snohomish County Public Utility District says the proposed dam’s modern low-impact design would help the county diversify its energy portfolio and meet the future power demands of a growing population.

But the location of the proposed dam—on a wild and scenic stretch of the Skykomish River near the small town of Index—has many locals banding together against the project. 

'No dam way'

The Northwest's second geothermal power plant has entered service. A Boise-based company called U.S. Geothermal built the project at Neal Hot Springs, near the small town of Vale in eastern Oregon.

The company's CEO Daniel Kunz says a good renewable energy resource and nearby transmission lines made Neal Hot Springs attractive for geothermal power generation.

Paul Anderson

Environmental activists are gathering in Bellingham for a big rally tomorrow. They’re trying to stop construction on a proposed shipping terminal at Cherry Point. It would handle millions of tons of coal from western states, to be used as a power source in China.

Tom Banse

Natural gas production in North America has increased so dramatically that no fewer than 17 companies have now applied to export the fuel overseas. Two gas export terminals are proposed in the Northwest -- one near Coos Bay, Oregon and the other at the Port of Astoria.

This week, federal energy regulators are getting an earful of public testimony.

As public meetings go, Monday’s visit by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to the Oregon Coast was more tense and raucous than usual.

Bainbridge Island provides an inspiring example in a new report about how small cities are charting the future of energy innovation.

Faced with the prospect of building an expensive new power station, the community came together instead and conserved enough energy to avoid it.

The Associated Press

The Arctic drill ship Kulluk has been berthed in Seattle for about 10 months, but if Shell Oil gets final federal permits and overcomes court challenges by environmental groups the vessel will be in Alaska waters this year.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Hundreds of employees of the Northwest’s only power plant celebrated Thursday. The Columbia Generating Station now is licenced to run for another 20 years.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the new 20-year license. That means the plant in southeast Washington will send up plumes of steam, visible for long distances across the desert until 2043.

It took employees five years to finish the application process. Carl Adrian heads the Tri-City Development Council. He says the plant is an important employer here, but it’s more than that.

The price of gasoline keeps rising for Americans, but it's not because of rising demand from consumers.

Since the first Arab oil embargo of the 1970s, the U.S. has struggled to quench a growing appetite for oil and gasoline. Now, that trend is changing.

"When you look at the U.S. oil market, you see that there's actually no growth," says Daniel Yergin, chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates.

He says gasoline demand peaked in 2007 and has fallen each year since, even though the economy has begun to recover.

Photo by Marcus Donner / Rainforest Action Network / Flickr

Trainloads of coal from Montana and Wyoming will soon be shipped through Northwest ports to Asia, if Seattle’s SSA Marine gets its way.

The company has filed several permit applications with Whatcom County.

At the same time, the County held a meeting in Bellingham, aimed at helping anti-coal activists most effectively register their concerns. 

Bellamy Pailthorp Photo / KPLU News

Later today, road crews will shut down a 15-block stretch of a major arterial in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. For three nights, the city is testing the use of new LED lighting to replace old-fashioned street lamps.

The study is part of a regional effort that could set the standard for more energy efficient streetlights across the country.

You might call it harnessing the power of the moon.

Ocean energy is electricity that is generated when the power of tides, waves and currents moves turbines and windmills. It’s an idea that’s caught on already in Oregon. And there are plans on the horizon to bring it to Washington. 

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