News from Clearing Up, a utility industry publication:
Microsoft should receive payment from PSE for between $15.4 million and $35.2 million… Read more… And, in last issue…Microsoft Negotiating PSE Exit, Wants to Buy Own Renewable Energy. Read more…
Island Power Goes to Jefferson County’s Power Lunch
Island Power Booth at SummerFEST
Visit our booth at SummerFEST Saturday Aug 13th!! We’ll be there from 12:00pm-4:00pm at Battle Point Park. Stop by for an Island Power button and good conversation.
July 12th Bainbridge Island City Council Voted 5 to 2 to Move Forward with the Feasibility Study!! Woohoo!
“We need an impartial, professional study to determine if there are significant financial, reliability and environmental benefits from establishing a community-owned not-for-profit electric system. The City Council should fund the feasibility study, so islanders can have the facts about the public power alternative to service by PSE. ”
– Herb Hethcote [Read entire letter to council.]
The City has created a page on their website for the Electric Utility Municipalization Project. Find comments, RFPs, PSE and Island Power’s presentations to the Council.
Packed Council Meeting May 10th – feasibility study vote
Tuesday, May 10th, council chambers were packed, even at 8:30pm as many people waited to hear the Task Force’s recommendation on which consulting firm to use for a feasibility study for a municipal utility.
The council was asked to answer two questions (1) should they proceed with a feasibility study, which would provide information for the council before deciding to write an ordinance to put the measure on the ballot (or not); and (2) if yes, then do they authorize the city manager to enter into a contract with D. Hittle Associates to perform the work?
Instead of voting to move ahead with the study or not, the council went along with Councilperson Sarah’s idea and asked the City Manager, Doug Schulze to go back to the Task Force to reconsider their recommendation. The council asked: Would they still recommend D. Hittle if lowest price and a November ballot were not part of the criteria?
Watch the entire meeting here: http://apps.bainbridgewa.gov/media/video/2016/CC_20160510.mp4. Comments start right away, the majority of the discussion about the utility feasibility study starts at 1:28.
Brian brought up the point that PSE’s Colstrip decommissioning process is a perfect example of privatizing profits and socializing costs (ratepayers will bear the brunt of the costs).
Gov. Jay Inslee approved a bill allowing Washington state’s largest utility, Puget Sound Energy, to set aside money for the eventual shutdown of two coal-fired electricity plants in Montana. The measure lets Puget Sound Energy create a fund to cover future decommissioning and cleanup costs at the Colstrip plant in Montana, if the units are closed after 2023. PSE owns half of units 1 and 2. (Inslee vetoed a section of the legislation that had said Puget Sound Energy, Colstrip’s largest owner, couldn’t use that money if it closed two aging units before Dec. 31, 2022.) “To be clear, no decision has been made on when the older Colstrip units might close,” Inslee said in a written statement issued after the signing.
Island Power Goes Head-to-Head with PSE – again
Tuesday, April 19th wasn’t just any Bainbridge Island City Council meeting, it was the first time IP and PSE squared off in public since the 23rd Democrats meeting last year. Watch the whole video here: http://hosted.invintusmedia.com/?clientID=8186354873&eventID=2016041001 Public comment starts right away. PSE’s presentation by VP of Corporate Affairs Andy Wappler, starts at about 28:49 minutes and IP’s presentation starts at about 59:12 minutes into the video.
Did you miss our last event? View the videos here.
Island Power Podcast
Bainbridge Community Broadcasting interviewed Island Power in March. Listen to it on BCB’s own website or simply have a listen by clicking the triangular ‘play’ button below and turning on the audio volume of your internet-connected device.
Podcast: Community Cafe Bainbridge: Island Power group offers green and reliable public power for Bainbridge
Long-time local residents Steve Johnson and Jane Lindley explain in this 28-minute podcast what their nonprofit “Island Power” considers to be four key advantages of replacing PSE with a local public electric utility for Bainbridge: cleaner power; community economic benefit; local control over decisions and rates; and potential broadband internet service.
Jane Lindley, a retired software company manager, explains that she discovered the problem of dirty coal-fueled electric power when she considered purchasing an electric car to take a stand against climate change. She points out that a local public utility could replace PSE’s coal-fired power for Bainbridge and obtain clean power, mostly from hydroelectric and other renewable sources.
Steve Johnson recently retired from more than 20 years as executive director of an association of public utilities throughout Washington State. He explains that his knowledge of the advantages of public utilities, compared to private corporate utilities like PSE, came from years of experiencing the public utilities’ reliability, high customer service scores, favorable rates, and accountability to their local voters.
“It’s little surprise, really, that Bainbridge, Washington is exploring public power. Off the coast of Seattle in Puget Sound, the island of 23,000 people has struck out on its own before to take control of its energy future.
Known for their environmental stewardship…”
Island Power goes head-to-head with Puget Sound Energy at Bainbridge Island City Council Meeting tonight. It starts at 7pm. There will be public comment at 7:10pm. The agenda as follows:
7:10 PM PUBLIC COMMENT ON AGENDA ITEMS
4. CITY COUNCIL DISCUSSION
A. 7:20 PM Puget Sound Energy (Andy Wappler, VP Corporate Affairs)
B. 7:50 PM Island Power
Sustainable Bainbridge supports Island Power’s initiative and sends a letter to the city manager and council – yay!!
Island Power in the news!
The City of Bainbridge Island council voted unanimously Tuesday night to accept the feasibility study RFP for a municipal electric utility. Yay!!
Comments were allowed after each new business item. Island Power members, Jane Lindley, Tom Goodlin, Steve Johnson and Jennifer White spoke in favor of moving forward with the RFP. Jane spoke on the urgency to get the measure on the ballot in November and that briefly last week the average normal temperature rose above the 2 degrees Celsius threshold. Tom urged the council to decouple the ordinance writing and RFP reviewing process to keep pace so that the measure could be on the ballot in November. Steve gave a great vision statement (check out the video here, our comments start at about the 2hr mark), and Jennifer did a great job summarizing all of our points.
|Island Power Co-chair Jane Lindley comments during council meeting|
City Manager’s Task Force
“In 2015, a group of Bainbridge Island residents formed a grass-roots organization for the purpose of promoting the creation of a municipal utility to provide electric service to Bainbridge Island residents and businesses. As a result of these efforts, the Council decided to conduct a study to evaluate whether the creation of a not-for-profit utility to provide electric service in place of PSE would be of benefit to the residents and businesses of Bainbridge Island.”
The task force has completed the RFP as of Thursday 2/18 and Council will review it in the March 1st meeting and take comments in the March 8th meeting.
Master of Ceremonies Jaco ten Hove welcomed everyone, Island Power Co-chair Steve Johnson led off with the advantages of public power and how it can improve reliability. Next General Manager Doug Miller from Pacific PUD spoke to reliability. Rick Vermeers and Mike McInnes from Brown and Kysar discussed the economics of public power and reliability. Finally, Jack Janda, Commissioner Mason PUD #1 spoke about local control and governance. Following the presentations, all speakers stayed to answer questions. Bonneville Power Administration representatives Scott Wilson and Marcus were on hand to answer questions as well.
Look what our neighbors at Jefferson PUD can say about public power:
- Rates 5% lower
- saving over a MILLION dollars a year
- greener power from Bonneville Power Admin (where we would get ours)
- low income support
- more RELIABLE
- 30 new JOBS, and
- community involvement.
Wouldn’t it be great if we had this too?
Island Power in the news… electric utility task force…
December 11th City Manager Report:
“[City Manager Doug Schulze is] in the process of creating a task force to assist with the development of a request for proposals, consultant selection, and report review for a study that will consider the viability of electric utility municipalization.
The task force would be comprised of eight to ten members of the community, preferably with backgrounds in utility finance, management, engineering or utility law. The task force will meet one to two times per month for approximately seven months, and will advise me in matters related to the electric utility municipalization study. Interested individuals should send an email with resume no later than Friday, January 8, 2016.
During their November 17 meeting, I was directed by the Council to draft a request for proposals for the completion of a study analyzing the viability of forming a municipally operated utility on Bainbridge Island.The discussion regarding creation of a publicly-owned electric utility was initiated by Island Power, a local organization formed for the purpose of promoting the creation of a publicly-owned electric utility. In response to the input received from Island Power and many community members, the City Council initially discussed this topic during their October 6, 2015 meeting where they asked for a plan that would provide the Council and community with comprehensive information to help make a decision on electric power service on Bainbridge Island.
After the October 6 meeting, information was gathered through discussions with electric utility general managers, legal counsel specializing in electric utility issues, Puget Sound Energy and consultants. Based on these conversations, it was determined that there are three general areas of study or assessment recommended: financial acquisition cost (including funding options, cost of service, and a rate study), engineering capacity (including transmission, energy efficiency and renewable resources plan, conservation potential assessment), and legal process for acquisition of system.”
Give the Gift of a Movie – THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING
Thursday Jan 21st join Island Power at the Lynwood Theatre at 6:30pm for a one day screening of This Changes Everything from the book by Naomi Klein of the same name. Buy your tickets here: https://www.tugg.com/events/77253
Island Power at 23rd Democrats Meeting Nov 17th
Co-chairs Jane and Steve talked about Island Power with a full house at the 23rd Democrats meeting on Tuesday night. PSE’s Senior Local Government Affairs Bryan McConaughy, and Vice President of Corporate Affairs Andy Wappler, who came from Bellevue, spoke as well. We asked for an endorsement from the 23rd Democrats for our efforts to put our initiative on the ballot. We answered a brief round of questions then high-tailed it back to the City of Bainbridge Island’s council meeting to hear City Manager Doug Schulze’s report regarding feasibility studies to create a public power utility on the island.
Island Power at the COBI Council Meeting Nov 17th
We’re everywhere! As Steve and I took our seats in the back of the council chambers, we were glad to see nine Island Power people in the audience wearing their buttons — evidence that we are going to see this initiative through! So proud of our team’s commitment to what is becoming a marathon instead of the sprint we initially envisioned. Around 9:30pm Doug Schulze outlined the studies to determine if an island-wide municipal utility makes sense for Bainbridge. He also estimated costs of those studies. The council asked to hear from the audience (three Island Power people took the stand in support of moving forward) and then asked Doug Schulze to write a formal Request for Proposal before they search for firm(s) to do the studies.
From the City Manager’s Report
Council Update: City Will Study Establishing Municipal Utility
“This week the City Council directed the City Manager to draft a Request for Proposals for the completion of a study analyzing the viability of forming a municipally operated utility on Bainbridge Island. Council will review the Request for Proposals at a future City Council meeting.
The discussion regarding creation of a publicly-owned electric utility has been initiated by Island Power, a local organization formed for the purpose of promoting the creation of a publicly-owned electric utility. In response to the input received from Island Power and many community members, the City Council discussed this topic during the October 6, 2015 meeting agenda. The action taken during the November 17, 2015 meeting was a follow-up to the October 6, 2015 City Council meeting where the City Council asked for a plan that would provide the Council and community with comprehensive information to help make a decision on electric power service on Bainbridge Island.
Over the past several weeks, information has been gathered through discussions with electric utility general managers, legal counsel specializing in electric utility issues, Puget Sound Energy and consultants. Based on these conversations, it was determined that there are three general areas of study or assessment recommended: financial acquisition cost (including funding options, cost of service, and a rate study), engineering capacity (including transmission, energy efficiency and renewable resources plan, conservation potential assessment), and legal process for acquisition of system.
Based on the information gathered thus far, it is anticipated that the cost for the deliverables in the Scope of Work would be in the range of $200,000 to $250,000.”
October 27th Island Power Delivered more than 1,200 signatures to COBI
Island Power’s Co-Chair, Steve Johnson, delivered more than 1,200 signatures to the city council during the their meeting on Oct 27th. The petition urges the City of Bainbridge Island to put the right to establish an island-wide nonprofit electric utility on the ballot.
There is no legal process for citizens to initiate such a request. The Washington state law governing the establishment of city utilities mentions nothing about petitions or signatures being necessary to take this action. Under this law the city council can, by majority vote, choose to put such a measure on the ballot at any time. However, it has been reasonably suggested by the council that there be some expression of significant interest by the community before they present such a ballot measure to the voters .
As the city does not have the power of referendum or initiative, Island Power proposed that the standard should be that used in the last major citizen petition on a highly significant city issue. That occurred in 2009 when Bainbridge Island residents voted to change the city’s legal structure from mayor-council to council-manager form of government.
For an election to be held to change to a council-manager form of government the WA sate law states: “the petitions must be signed by registered voters in number equal to not less than ten percent of the votes cast at the last general municipal election.”
Island Power therefore proposed to the city council that it submit signed petitions “equal to not less than ten percent of the votes cast at the last general municipal election.” According to the Kitsap County Auditor there were 10,967 votes cast in the last municipal election in 2013, and 10% of that number is 1,097.
Island Power is not suggesting that all the details of Washington State elections and other law apply here. These signatures are simply intended as the community’s expression of our First Amendment right to petition our government officials to allow a vote on whether or not the city should create an electric utility.
As Co-Chair of Island Power Steve Johnson handed the signatures to the council he asked that this issue be placed on the ballot in 2016.
Hot Off the Presses:
Recent article about our initiative by Inside Bainbridge: Island Power or PSE? Parties Weigh in Before Tonight’s Council Discussion
Tuesday October 6th at the City of Bainbridge Island Council Meeting…
TEN amazing people stood up and spoke in support of public power. We crossed the first major hurtle and have shown adequate support for our initiative. The council is going to move forward with studies to see if it makes sense for Bainbridge, then create an ordinance and put it on the ballot. Thanks to everyone who showed up for a late-night council meeting and for all those cheering us on via email and social media.
As Barry Peter’s succinctly noted:
“There is an opportunity for City Council members who see the importance of clean green power, resisting climate change and supporting a sustainable local economy, family wage jobs and democratic community control, to move the City’s feasibility analysis forward expeditiously so that a City ordinance is ready next year in time to give Bainbridge voters a chance to support this when they turn out massively in the presidential elections of November 2016.
Our friends on City Council who are visionaries in these respects can achieve a legacy by having this study move forward to a City ordinance that is approved by Bainbridge voters during their current term in office, in this 25th year of home rule for Bainbridge Island.”
Possible Next Steps:
We may develop an advisory committee, perhaps to provide coordinated input to shape the scope and objectives of the study.
Hot Off the Presses:
Recent article about our initiative by Inside Bainbridge: Island Power or PSE? Parties Weigh in Before Tonight’s Council Discussion
Kitsap Sun also wrote an article about the Oct 6th council meeting: Bainbridge takes up talk of public power. “The Bainbridge Island City Council will take the first step toward considering municipal public power during Tuesday night’s council meeting, according to Mayor Anne Blair.”
Inside Bainbridge just wrote an article about our May 9th meeting and Island Power in general: Do You Support Public Power? Island Power Wants to Know.
May 9th Meeting at the Grange
If you missed the May 9th meeting it was kicked off by Co-Chair Jane Lindley, then the speakers included Co-Chair Steve Johnson, former executive director of the WA PUD Association, who gave a brief history of public power and an overview of how public power might work for Bainbridge. Next, Scott Wilson and Marcus Perry from the Bonneville Power Administration talked about its ability to supply all the power BI needs and answered load and snow pack questions, then Scott Wilson from the Port Townsend Leader talked about the pros and cons of setting up an electric utility as well as giving some insight on the war of the consultants. Finally, Bob Titus former Special Projects Manager for the City of Ellensburg and Director for the city of Port Angeles discussed how well public power has worked for those cities which are similar in size to BI. Jaco ten Hove was our steadfast moderator.
If you missed the PowerPoint from our May 9th meeting, you can watch it with Quicktime: IslandPower_050715
We’ll be out collecting signatures to show support for public power and get it on the ballot. If you see us at the Farmers’ Market or around town, please say hi. Or, if you’d like to help us collect signatures, contact us.
Is Public Power Right for Bainbridge?!?
Bainbridge Island citizens have the opportunity to own and control our own nonprofit electric utility, as do more than 50 other Washington communities. Consumer owned utilities, from the City of Blaine to Seattle City Light, provide lower cost, cleaner and more reliable power than Puget Sound Energy (PSE).
In 2008 our neighbors in Jefferson County (Port Townsend) voted to give electric authority to their public utility district, Jefferson PUD and buy out PSE. Today they have their own 100% carbon-free, locally controlled, nonprofit power system.
If Jefferson County can control its own power system so can Bainbridge.
Lauren Roman wrote a letter to the editor which was published in The Bainbridge Review:
Listen to our recent podcast with Dona and Charles Keating from Straight Talk Radio:
Island Power is in the news again! April 10th The Review printed co-chair, Jane Lindley’s op-ed: Cut your carbon emissions without a lifestyle overhaul.
Friday, March 27th The Review wrote about our grassroots efforts to develop a nonprofit electric utility on Bainbridge Island: Move afoot to oust PSE: Grassroots group wants to start public utility. Our main goals are to encourage: smart energy, a local economy and to be heard.
The New Utility Model described in the link below can only happen with a public power utility like Fort Collins, or Island Power. Right now the power company’s are scrambling to put new charges on solar, because folks having their on power plant doesn’t fit their business model, and probably can’t. But with our own non profit utility these good things can make financial sense. Our utility can promote solar by for example making solar loans. Steve Johnson heard from a bond council attorney last week that our new utility might be able to issue bonds at 1.5%. If Island Power then loaned money for solar at 2.5% they would make a healthy margin to do other good things.