Executive outlines county ‘green’ energy plan

July 13, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

King County Executive Dow Constantine debuted a plan last week to cut energy use, stimulate the development of “green” technology and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The plan sets goals to produce, use or buy renewable energy equal to 50 percent of total county energy requirements by 2012; reduce energy usage in county buildings 10 percent by 2012; and cut energy use in county vehicles 10 percent by 2015.

Constantine announced the plan July 7.

“This 2010 King County Energy Plan builds on these investments and supports my reform agenda’s focus on improving the sustainability and efficiency of county operations,” he said in a news release. “We’ve taken advantage of incentives from local utilities to make investments that produce long-term savings and partnered with private sector companies to produce energy from existing county facilities, such as the Cedar Hills landfill and the West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant.”

Cedar Hills Regional Landfill — spread across more than 900 acres south of Issaquah — serves a role in the “green” vision described by Constantine.The county and Bio Energy Washington, a “green” energy company, partnered in 2008 to capture methane at the landfill and then use the gas to generate electricity. The county estimates the program could someday generate electricity to power 24,000 homes.

King County Councilwoman Kathy Lambert, the trash expert on the nine-member council, said the methane program at the landfill represents a start.

Lambert traveled to Europe in 2007 to study waste-to-energy facilities, and hosted a Seattle symposium about the topic in April. Lambert envisions a state-of-the-art waste-to-energy facility in King County based on the European technology.

“I don’t see any reason to reinvent the wheel,” she said.

The county has also kicked off a project to improve waste-to-energy production at the West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant in Seattle.

To make mass transit more eco-friendly, Metro Transit operates 285 hybrid buses and almost 160 electric trolley buses, as well as more than 1,000 vans in the country’s largest vanpool program.

“The energy plan calls for continued investment in hybrid buses, which are 47 percent more fuel efficient than conventional diesel buses, have substantially lower maintenance costs and significantly reduce air pollution,” Constantine said. “These kinds of investments not only reduce fuel use in the region, but also are essential to meeting the county’s long-term climate goals.”

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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