Hydropower

City Passes Policies to Combat Global Warming

A city in the western United States is calling on other local governments to adopt policies to combat global warming.

SEATTLE, Washington, US, 2001-08-10 [SolarAccess.com] A city in the western United States is calling on other local governments to adopt policies to combat global warming. The Mayor and members of Council in Seattle has voted on resolutions to support the goals of the Kyoto protocol and to commit the city’s public electric utility, Seattle City Light, to a policy of zero net emissions of greenhouse gas. It has called on other local governments to adopt policies to combat global warming. “Every city and every individual can take steps to reduce global warming,” says mayor Paul Schell. “Cities are where most emissions occur and where the solutions must begin. We can’t afford to wait for the federal government to do this.” The utility’s commitment to renewable energy resources and energy efficiency is a good business decision, and provides sufficient power to meet total projected load growth over the next ten years, he explains. Conservation is among the least expensive sources of power, and renewable resources expand City Light’s energy portfolio and reduce the need for wholesale market power. “Our actions are ambitious but realistic,” adds councillor Heidi Wills, chair of the city’s Energy & Environmental Policy Committee. “We believe we can triple the reductions called for in the Kyoto Protocol and demonstrate to other cities what the possibilities are.” One of the council resolutions adopts the Kyoto goal of a 7 percent reduction in GHG emissions by 2010, but Seattle wants to triple that level. A calculation of total emissions produced by city operations will be made before determining a specific reduction goal. Another resolution formalizes the commitment of Seattle City Light to become the first major utility in the U.S. to achieve zero net GHG emissions. The utility has already sold its share of a coal steam plant and will mitigate emissions from its remaining fossil-fuel resources by purchasing 100 MW of non-hydro renewable energy and produce the equivalent of another 100 MW through energy efficiency and conservation. The utility must displace the emission of 0.6 megatonnes of carbon dioxide each year. City Council disputes the notion that reducing GHG emissions is costly, and stress the economic benefits of action. The absence of GHG emissions in City Light’s electrical output is attractive to many businesses, explains Schell. Being green gives certain businesses an advantage in the marketplace, and some of the money available for GHG mitigation projects will go into the local economy. He says the cost of not acting could be extraordinarily high, with global warming threatening to reduce the region’s snowpack by 50 percent over the next 50 years, which would jeopardize drinking water, irrigation and hydroelectric supplies.