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KUOW's environment beat brings you stories on the ongoing cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, alternative energy, the health of the Puget Sound, coal transportation and more. We're also partnered with several stations across the Northwest to bring you environmental news via EarthFix.

100% renewable energy plans soon available to businesses, governments

The Big Horn Wind Farm in Klickitat County, Washington.
Flickr Photo/Alex Williams (CC BY NC 2.0)/
The Big Horn Wind Farm in Klickitat County, Washington.

Puget Sound Energy is launching a program that will bring a new wind farm to the state. PSE’s new Green Direct program is set up as an alternative way for major utility customers to buy their energy.

It will let corporations, governments, and other businesses pay for 100 percent renewable energy, instead of paying for a combination of fossil fuel resources, clean energy and other fuel sources.

So far Starbucks, REI, King County, the city of Bellevue, and multiple other large customers have agreed to join. Their electric bills will be based on the price of renewable energy, which may be higher than their bills before. Their payments will cover the cost of a new wind farm in the state.

Heather Mulligan with Puget Sound Energy said the benefit is it will help bring more clean energy to the grid.

Mulligan: "It's essentially what we consider a shared renewable project, so that all of these customers are coming together and because of their commitment a new wind resource will be putting power onto the grid for all of the region."

The wind farm is expected to open by 2019, but the program is getting a lot of interest already.

Mulligan: "The project will produce enough energy to cover the needs of all of these participating customers."

Starbucks will pay for enough energy to power more than 100 stores. REI will opt-in for multiple stores and its headquarters. King County, the cities of Bellevue and Arlington, Western Washington University, Target and others are also signed up.

Sound Transit is also joining the program, meaning by 2019 it can claim its light rail trains are powered by clean energy.