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Climate Action in San Juan County

The Madrona Institute has been hosting an excellent Climate Action Speaker Series. On October 12th, the speaker series featured opening remarks by Senator Liz Lovelett, followed by Jay Kimball, Vice Chair of the San Juan County Climate and Sustainability Advisory Committee, speaking on County climate action, and Vince Dauciunas, OPALCO Board President, speaking on resilient energy systems.

Senator Lovelett offered an overview of state legislative climate actions that are in progress or under review. She highlighted a trip she made to Scandinavia to learn about climate action and sustainable best practices that can inform Washington state climate strategy. She also praised OPALCO’s future-forward leadership to prepare the grid for the new loads coming from the electrification of transportation and heating.

Building on this theme of climate action, Jay Kimball highlighted the global mega-trends that are driving a rapid shift to net-zero emissions. Reviewing national and state climate goals, he highlighted the recent San Juan County greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions study that shows that over 80% of GHGs come from just two things – transportation and heating. He reviewed how other island communities are innovating new approaches to clean public transportation and showed how, working with our neighboring counties, a unified public transportation network could provide convenient, affordable, accessible clean transportation for the region.

Vince Dauciunas showed how the state is contemplating transitioning the regional energy system to net-zero emissions by 2050. He highlighted where our energy comes from and the complex set of challenges that arise as land-intensive wind and solar energy and transmission systems are deployed to meet an expected doubling of electric load. He then turned to the local energy picture, reviewing the sun and wind capacity in the county, showing how tidal energy may be our best local energy for year-round production. To minimize how much new energy we develop, Vince highlighted OPALCO’s Switch It Up! program, which helps co-op members improve their energy efficiency with affordable on-bill financing for heat pumps, insulation, windows, solar, and battery storage.

Jay and Vince’s presentations are available at the links below. The Madrona Institute will be posting a link to video of the event. We include a link to their entire speakers series, which we encourage readers to checkout.

Jay’s Presentation: Climate Action in San Juan County

Vince’s presentation: Resilient Energy Systems

Madrona Institute Speaker Series Videos: https://www.youtube.com/@TheMadronaInstitute/videos

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