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Climate Impact and Our Energy Future

Climate impacts are rapidly changing our world and we face big hurdles as we transition away from carbon (fossil fuels). OPALCO is prepared to navigate these challenges but will need the cooperation and participation of its membership to make the shift to a sustainable energy future.

Carbon emissions have jumped more than 30% over the last century and as many as a million species are now at risk of extinction. Decarbonization is the key to saving the planet – and building a sustainable energy future. To be effective, we must decarbonize energy generation and energy consumption.

In our shift away from fossil fuels, our power will be generated primarily by clean hydro, solar and wind. Coal plants are shutting down and the region’s capacity to supply power will be challenged. Rolling blackouts are expected in the coming years as new renewable sources are developed and sources of firming power (when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine) will be critical. Hydropower is the most important firming energy source.

Transportation and heating are the largest sources of carbon usage for the typical household with driving a gas-powered car in the lead. The switch to Electric Vehicles is the most important shift in energy consumption that must take place to build a sustainable energy future. Converting fossil fuel home heating sources to clean electric is a close second. Washington’s Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA) mandates the decarbonization of energy and will shift the cost equation to make clean sources the more affordable options by imposing fees on carbon use.

OPALCO has a strong plan (Integrated Resource Plan) and strategic partnerships in place to help our island communities make the transition to a clean energy future. The Washington State deadline for zero carbon usage is 2045; we must work together as a cooperative to make the shift away from fossil fuels and to build some local energy resilience (locally generated renewable power) to see us through what is forecast to be a bumpy ride in the region.  Read all about it in OPALCO’s Quick Fact series on climate impacts.

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