Switching to low-carbon electricity is one of the top actions we can take as a community to reduce local carbon dioxide emissions and other pollution and help Bellingham reach the goals in its Climate Action Plan. Making this switch requires two steps: 1) switching to electric technologies and phasing out technologies that are powered directly by fossil fuels; and 2) increasing our use of low-carbon renewable energy for local and regional electricity supply.
Shift to Electric
Electrification means transitioning from the fossil fuels (natural gas, gasoline, etc.) that many space and water heating systems, appliances, vehicles, and other technologies rely on and switching to electricity from low-carbon energy sources, such as solar and wind. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, electrification has health benefits such as improving indoor air quality and reducing rates of premature death and disease resulting from pollution. Our community can choose to participate in electrification in the following ways:
- Replacing fossil fuel space and water heating systems with electric systems. Instant discounts on high-efficiency electric heat pump technologies are available to Puget Sound Energy (PSE) customers.
- Replacing fossil fuel appliances, such as clothes dryers, with electric appliances. Rebates are available on some energy-efficient electric appliances for PSE customers.
- Replacing fossil fuel vehicles, or internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, with electric ones. Rebates and tax credits are available to Washington State residents who purchase electric vehicles.
Increase Renewable Energy Use
The cleaner and less pollution intensive Washington State’s electricity grid becomes, the greater the benefits of electrification. By increasing our use of renewable energy, we decrease the need for burning fossil fuels to generate electricity. This reduces pollution, harmful health impacts, and greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
Purchase Renewable Power
Switching to renewable energy does not require a big sunny roof, or a lot of money. Local power providers offer programs for customers to support regional renewable energy projects without having to install or maintain anything. Participation is usually low cost and easy. Here are some examples of local programs:
- PSE’s Green Power Program: Your home or business can enroll to offset your energy use with renewable options made from naturally replenishing resources, like sunlight, wind and water.
- PSE’s Solar Choice Program: Let the sun in with Solar Choice, a way to match some or all of the power you use with clean solar energy. You won’t have any solar panels on your home. Instead, solar energy generated at a separate location will be added to the power grid on your behalf.
Install Solar Power
Rooftop solar power is a popular and viable renewable energy source in Bellingham, and its prevalence is on the rise. In April 2016, Bellingham was recognized by Governor Jay Inslee as a Northwest Solar Community for making it easier and cheaper for homeowners to install rooftop solar.
You can install solar panels on your residential or commercial property by working with a solar installation company. They will provide you with a consultation (often free) to see if your home is a good fit for solar power. Learn more about generating your own solar power:
- Solar power information on PSE’s website
- Homeowner’s Guide to Going Solar by the Department of Energy
- Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit Explained
- Renewable Energy Incentives on the Washington State Department of Revenue website
Are you in? Start today!
Join hundreds of Bellingham community members in taking the “I’m In!” for Climate Action pledge today to make a personal commitment to switch to renewable energy. Whatcom County residents who complete the pledge are eligible to enter our quarterly prize drawing to win a tool to help you reduce your environmental impact.