The energy system is on a collision course with the global climate and will take time to divert off that course, says the report's author, Patrick Mazza of Climate Solutions. Yet many in the Northwest are "steering towards a clean energy future," he continues, using case studies to illustrate how they are doing so. Mazza looks at how businesses incorporate green power into their operations, how public and private programs are delivering green power to consumers, how several campaigns are spurring green power growth and how all of this is resulting in a huge build-up of renewable energy supplies, particularly wind power, in the region.
The report highlights a number prominent Northwest examples, starting with the Bonneville Power Administration, a federal power marketing agency, which is working with developers to build about 1300 MW in wind projects by 2003, making it the largest supplier of wind energy in the US if the plans go through. Other utilities also taking a leadership role in developing wind power are both PacifiCorp Power Marketing and PacifiCorp, the Eugene Water & Electric Board, Energy Northwest, Montana Power and Seattle City Light.
On the business front, Xantrex of Arlington, Washington is the first factory in North America to use 100% renewable energy, reports Mazza. Other businesses like Batdorf & Bronson coffee roasters, also in Washington, and Global Energy Concepts in Seattle have committed to receive 100% of their electricity from renewable resources.
Meantime, the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, a non-profit organisation separate from the power marketing agency, has sold 5.4 million kWh worth of green tags to Northwest commercial electricity customers. The sales are helped along, says Mazza, by campaigns to encourage consumers and utilities to turn to green energy, including the Clean Energy Challenge, organised by Climate Solutions, the Renewable Northwest Project's Go Green campaign and Renew 2000, a project of the Northwest Environmental Advocates.
At least 20 Northwest electric utilities offer customers a green option. According to a separate report by the Renewables Northwest Project, the amount of energy sold through these green power programs has doubled since last year. Program participants have increased from 9300 to 18,675 and the volume of electricity sold has risen from 23.5 million kWh to 47.1 million kWh, with 60% of the increase coming from PacifiCorp and Portland General Electric programs.