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Save Our Wild Salmon

Building bright, clean-energy future will create jobs, spur economy 


March 18, 2009: SEATTLE, Wash. — Today, the NW Energy Coalition released an exciting new report showing that the four-state region has ample, affordable energy conservation and renewable energy resources to serve future power needs and fulfill our climate responsibilities, reviving our economy and creating thousands of good local jobs along the way.

Bright Future: How to keep the Northwest’s lights on, jobs growing, goods moving and salmon swimming the era of climate change shows that with federal and regional leadership, the Northwest electric system can:
•    Serve growing energy demands, including new power needs for electrification of transportation
•    Cope with climate-related challenges to already endangered salmon stocks
•    Meet state, regional and international greenhouse gas-reduction goals of at least 15% by 2020 and 80% or more by 2050, requiring the shutdown of the coal plants now producing 87% of the system’s CO2 emissions.

And the cost for achieving this Bright Future? The study compares the costs with business-as-usual, and finds the difference in 2020 and 2050 to be about two-thirds of a cent per kilowatt-hour on the average customer’s bill. And that negligible difference would be swamped by the economic benefits of good jobs, community investment, lower bills for low-income families, healthier buildings and a cleaner environment.

“Talk about a good deal!” said NW Energy Coalition executive director Sara Patton. “Here in the Northwest we’re justly proud of clean energy tradition and innovation. Now we have a real opportunity to make tomorrow’s power system even cleaner than today’s.”

The analysis starts from the calculation that Northwest electricity needs will more than double by 2050. Affordably meeting those growing needs and coping with climate change and its impacts – the bright future – will require annual development of 340 average megawatts of bill-reducing energy efficiency and 270 average megawatts of new renewable energy. (An “average megawatt” is measure of energy use or production. For comparison, Seattle uses about 1,100 average megawatts of electricity a year.)

Bright Future finds the region rife with opportunities for conservation and renewable energy -- mostly wind now, but solar and others as their costs fall. To seize those opportunities, the paper calls for:

•    A cap on global-warming emissions. President Obama and the U.S. Congress should quickly set carbon emission limits consistent with scientists’ recommendations and see that they’re met. But the Northwest must not wait for national action.

•    Regional leadership from Bonneville Power Association. The Obama administration should direct BPA to assure regional achievement of 340 aMW of new energy efficiency and 270 aMW of new renewable energy a year.

•    A strong regional plan from the Northwest Power and Conservation Council that calls for enough energy efficiency and renewable energy to meet all demand growth and move us away from coal power.

•    Extending and/or enacting state renewable energy standards.

•    Prohibiting new coal plant construction or extending the lives of existing ones. This can be accomplished through federal action or strong emissions performance standards adopted by individual states.

“Bright Future shows we have all the God-given resources – the wind, the sun, the seas, the heat of the Earth – we need to build a better world,” said Earth Ministry executive director LeeAnne Beres. “All we need is the vision and the political will to use those resources wisely.”

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Bright Future is the second in the Light in the River series of papers sponsored by Save Our wild Salmon, NW Energy Coalition and the Sierra Club.

Full and four-page versions of Bright Future, as well as several statements from national and regional observers, are available for viewing and download at www.lightintheriver.org/brightfuture

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Save Our Wild Salmon is a nationwide coalition of conservation organizations, river groups, fishing associations, businesses, and taxpayer and clean energy advocates working collectively to restore abundant, sustainable wild salmon to the rivers, streams and oceans of the Western salmon states.
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