In an effort to promote the use of renewable energy, the state legislature last year passed HB 1257 which allows gas companies to sell natural gas produced from landfills. Puget Sound Energy (PSE) has now signed a 20-year agreement with Klickitat Public Utility District to buy renewable natural gas produced from the fourth-largest permitted landfill in the U.S.
Klickitat PUD Board President Dan Gunkel described the agreement as “a crowning achievement for us. This agreement will bring the long-term, stable value to our customers that we have been working toward.”
PSE Senior Vice President David Mills said in a statement that the move was to meet the anticipated energy needs of the region in the years ahead, and that the utility will continue looking for resources to do so.
Under the agreement, PSE will purchase 550,000 dekatherms generated from the H.W. Hill Renewable Natural Gas facility for the first three years – the equivalent of 161,189 megawatts (MWh). After that, PSE will then begin purchasing 1.65-1.9 million dekatherms per year. The regional utility company currently serves 800,000 natural gas customers in six counties and owns nine natural gas-fired power plants.
The Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA), also passed in 2019, stipulates that utilities such as PSE must transition from coal and natural gas toward clean energy, with a goal of 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045. However, the law differentiates renewable natural gas produced from landfills from natural gas by including it with other clean energy such as wind and solar.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), renewable natural gas “offsets the use of non-renewable resources, such as coal, oil, or natural gas, to produce the same amount of energy. This can avoid emissions of CO2, criteria pollutants…from power plants and other fossil fuel users.”
The H.W. Hill Renewable Natural Gas facility opened last year and accepts two million tons of waste annually. It is estimated to offset a total of 35.4 million tons of CO2 emissions over the course of its expected 80-year lifespan. In comparison, the state’s total carbon emissions in 2017 was 97.5 million metric tons (MMT), according to the state Department of Ecology.
The agreement between PSE and Klickitat County PUD runs through 2040.