The City of Bellingham is announcing three projects which will help the City reach municipal and community greenhouse gas emissions targets. Projects include installation of electric vehicle charging stations throughout the city, investment in renewable wind energy to power city-owned buildings, and partnering with Puget Sound Energy’s (PSE) Community Solar Program by installing solar panels on the City’s water treatment plant.
Twelve years ago, the Bellingham City Council adopted Legacies and Strategic Commitments that include reducing the City’s impact on climate change. Three years ago Council approved an update to the City’s Climate Action Plan which was further updated in November 2020, renewing Bellingham’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“Taking strong action to reduce our impact on climate is a high priority for the City,” said Mayor Seth Fleetwood. “These are three important projects that move the City closer to meeting our municipal and community greenhouse gas emissions reductions goals. These are among our many projects that we look forward to unveiling, part of our continuing work on climate action as a top priority.” The City aims to make the city government carbon neutral and reduce community emissions by 85% by 2050.
Electric vehicle infrastructure grant
The Washington State Department of Commerce’s competitive Electrification of Transportation Grant program awarded the City $1.5 million dollars to be used towards installation of new electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure across Bellingham. The City will contribute $500,000 in grant match from the voter-approved Transportation Fund to this amount, bringing total investment to $2 million. This investment will reduce barriers to EV ownership by installing numerous charging stations throughout the City. Stations will be equitably distributed on City-owned properties and public rights-of-way, clustered near destinations, workplaces, and multifamily residential areas. Currently, the project aims to install EV charging infrastructure at approximately 27 different sites across Bellingham, resulting in 90 new EV plugs. Approximately 23 sites will have at least one Level 2 charger, and 5 sites near I-5 will have a Level 3 (fast) charger.
“The installation of electric vehicle charging stations is an excellent example of key initiatives underway to meet the City’s commitment to our climate action goals,” said Eric Johnston, Public Works Director. “We need a future with cleaner transportation options. This grant allows us to extend more opportunities to the community to help reach our collective goals.”
Work to install EV charging stations will launch officially in early 2021. The first chargers could be installed as early as July 2021, with work completed in or around October 2023.
Wind farm produces on City’s behalf
The new Skookumchuck wind farm near Centralia is producing renewable energy on behalf of the City of Bellingham and many other partners through PSE’s “Green Direct” program. The City’s contract is for 20 years with the goal of purchasing enough renewable electricity generation to power most City-owned buildings. This new energy project can produce up to 137 megawatts (MW) of wind energy—equivalent to powering 30,000 homes. The City’s contract with PSE will provide renewable energy to power City-owned buildings. The City is now investigating the potential of procuring renewable electricity generation for the entire community.
City selected for solar array
The City is partnering with PSE on their Community Solar Program and was selected as a host site for a new solar array on the Water Treatment Plant in Whatcom Falls Park. This program will allow customers who are unable to install solar on their own apartments or homes to share in the costs and benefits of new solar capacity. The new solar array, installed and operated by PSE, will be a significant addition to the existing City-owned array on the Water Treatment Plant roof adding approximately 1,200 panels. This program will likely be available to the community in 2021.
“Our Green Direct contract with PSE has contributed to the addition of new wind turbines and more renewable energy on the grid than we had before, and Community Solar will open up local solar power ownership to groups that were not able to participate previously,” said Seth Vidana, Climate and Energy Manager. “These two recent advances in renewables will improve capacity and accessibility.”
More information on the City’s Climate Action Plan and can be found at the City’s website, here: www.cob.org/climate
Stay up to date on climate action work and ask questions on Engage Bellingham at www.engagebellingham.org/climate