The City of Mercer Island, Wash., has announced a commitment to run exclusively on wind power starting in 2019.
Mercer Island plans to buy 20 years of wind power to replace its current mix of electricity for its city operations. Currently, 60% of the power supplied regionally by Puget Sound Energy (PSE) derives from coal and natural gas. The city’s new contract for 2019-2039 will replace these fossil fuels thanks to PSE’s new Green Direct program and cover an annual municipal usage of 3 million kWh.
“Moving 100 percent of Mercer Island facilities away from fossil fuel-based electricity to clean, renewable wind is just the kind of program we had in mind,” says Mercer Island Mayor Bruce Bassett. “We appreciate PSE’s significant efforts to implement this new direct-purchase option in Washington, and we look forward to directly funding a new wind farm.”
Over the long term, the city also anticipates saving money through the wind contract, according to Ross Freeman, city sustainability manager.
“A two percent yearly inflation rate is built in, but based on historic data, future power rates are forecast to increase by approximately two to four percent per year,” he says.
Through various other programs, Mercer Island has installed substantial amounts of residential and commercial solar generation. In partnership with the King County-Cities Climate Collaboration, the city also undertakes other joint carbon-reduction measures, such as implementing cleaner fleet vehicles and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
Under its new Green Direct program, PSE is teaming up with cities, government institutions and major commercial customers to provide them with renewable energy. The program was recently approved by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission. Once complete, the initiative could produce enough renewable energy to power nearly 30,000 Washington homes. The largest off-taker of the energy will be King County, Wash.