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We don’t often see the state of Oregon leading the charge, but after being the first state to officially start plans to  phase-out  coal-fired power, Washington has followed suit. Washington Governor Chris Gregoire has signed a bill that will systematically end the burning of coal in the state, and power company TransAlta have agreed to phase-out its massive 1,400 megawatt Centralia plant — with its two large coal boilers — between 2020 and 2025.

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The bill was the result of a long-negotiated agreement between the Sierra Club, Governor Gregoire, and TransAlta who is the sole owner of the state’s coal fired power station. It has been a long battle, but today TransAlta agreed to a gradual phase out of its plant’s coal boilers.

The agreement calls for one of the Centralia plant’s two coal-fired boilers to be retired in 2020, with the second boiler scheduled to be retired by 2025. Both boilers will install pollution controls in 2013 that will reduce the amount of health-threatening nitrogen oxide pollution from the plant. One does wonder though, why that measure must be done in two years and not straight away.

Speaking about the deal, Doug Howell, Washington Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign said, “This agreement reflects a reasonable and thoughtful approach to a complex situation. Retiring this plant will protect the families and national parks that have for four decades been choking on this plant’s pollution. The orderly retirement will also ensure that the Centralia community will be protected during the transition away from coal.”

Sierra Club Deputy Conservation Director Bruce Nilles concurred, saying at the signing ceremony, “In the great American tradition, people in the states are leading and eventually Congress will follow. It is in this tradition that we are here today to celebrate a state’s common sense solution to a global problem. By reaching an agreement to phase out the TransAlta plant over the next fourteen years in an orderly manner, Washington State is showing Washington D.C. not only that it can be done, but how it can be done.”

Interestingly enough, Washington State is primarily served by hydropower. The big question is after Oregon and Washington, which state will be next to go coal-free?

+ TransAlta

via PR News Wire

Images © Chas Redmond