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Agreement Reached to Retire Only Coal Fired Power Plant in Washington



April 29, 2011 – Comments (7)

April 29, 2011
3:23 PM

CONTACT: Sierra Club

David Graham-Caso, 213.387.6528 x214,

Agreement Reached to Retire Only Coal-Fired Power Plant in WashingtonPublic Health Protections, Community Investment are Cornerstones of Landmark Agreement

SEATTLE, WA - April 29 - The Sierra Club announced today that this past weekend, the Washington State Senate approved a landmark agreement between the Sierra Club, Governor Chris Gregoire and TransAlta to phase out the state’s massive 1600MW coal plant between 2020 and 2025. This agreement continues Washington’s transition away from dirty coal to clean energy.  With growing pressure from the public (including environmental groups, clean energy advocates, health professionals, students and the faith community) to move away from dirty coal, Governor Gregoire convened a group of stakeholders to discuss ways to transition the state off of coal.  The agreement approved by the Senate on Saturday (formally Senate Bill 5769), is the result of those meetings.

“This agreement reflects a reasonable and thoughtful approach to a complex situation,” said Doug Howell, Washington Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.  “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.

“We are very grateful for the leadership of Governor Gregoire and the willingness of TransAlta to find a solution that works for all interested parties and brings an end to this longstanding controversy,” added Howell.

The agreement, reached by the Sierra Club, TransAlta, Governor Gregoire and conservation and clean energy advocates including Climate Solutions, the Northwest Energy Coalition and Washington Environment Council, 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. 

Importantly, the agreement would also create a $60 million transition fund that will be invested in the Centralia community to help transition away from relying on the plant.  Not only will tens of millions of dollars be invested in Centralia community development, but a significant portion of the transition fund will additionally be dedicated to innovation and new technologies that will help reduce Washington’s carbon pollution.

“As the Northwest and the nation begin to transition away from coal, we must ensure that the workers and families who have dedicated their lives to producing coal-powered electricity are helping lead the way into a clean energy future,” said Mary Anne Hitt, Director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “This agreement will help ensure that Washington’s economy, air, and water will be healthy for decades to come, by providing resources that will spur innovation in the Northwest to move the region and the nation beyond coal.”

If SB 5769, which was approved by the Senate on Saturday, is approved by the Washington State House of Representatives, the agreement would make TransAlta’s Centralia plant the latest victory for a healthy and thriving clean energy future in America. Together with the plan to close Oregon’s one coal plant - Portland General Electric’s Boardman plant - in 2020, the Pacific Northwest will end its coal-burning pollution throughout the next 14 years.  Thanks in part to the work of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, plans for 150 new coal plants have been shelved since the beginning of the coal rush, keeping more than 570 million tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and encouraging America to follow the path to a new clean energy economy.

“The future of America’s energy will not be in dirty, dangerous and outdated coal-fired power that makes people sick,” said Hitt.  “It will be in clean and sustainable energy that will put people to work.  This is another step on our shared path to a clean energy future.”

###The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892 in San Francisco, California by the well-known conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada.

7 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On April 29, 2011 at 5:55 PM, chk999 (99.97) wrote:

So what are they replacing the capacity with?

It has to be something that works on a cold, still night or we are going to have blackout. 

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#2) On April 29, 2011 at 8:13 PM, jlmjlm77 (98.00) wrote:

I guess people in Washington State can just burn more wood in their country wood stoves while they speak of the "clean energy" victory.

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#3) On April 29, 2011 at 10:26 PM, devoish (71.86) wrote:

One 500mw coal plant in Oregon? They could replace that capacity with LED bulbs, and an efficient refrigerator exchange program.



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#4) On April 30, 2011 at 12:59 AM, FleaBagger (27.51) wrote:

I'll admit I didn't read the whole article, but wasn't it about a 1600MW plant in Washington, not a 500MW plant in Oregon?

More importantly, replacing light bulbs doesn't replace capacity. If people do not want to pay the huge up-front cost of switching to LED's, they won't unless forced. Then you risk blackouts. If you force people to switch, they may leave them on longer, or use more energy in other ways. Then you will have blackouts. People burn coal for a reason. It's the cheapest way to produce electricity, for instance, the electricity you're using to read this right now. Life gets more expensive the less coal you use.

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#5) On April 30, 2011 at 7:55 AM, devoish (71.86) wrote:


It is 500. There is 400mw of gas in their future and 2000mw of wind.

Many people are beginning to understand that coal is only cheaper because many of its costs are paid by your health insurance to asthma and heart disease sufferers.

But seriously, people might leave their lights on longer after you retire cheap electricity?

Think about that one for a minute longer.

I think the people in oregon made the smart choice, pay a little more now (2.5%) save a lot later.

Best wishes,


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#6) On April 30, 2011 at 12:19 PM, OneLegged (< 20) wrote:

Calling The Sierra Club "grassroots" is like calling King Kong a happy little monkey.  :)

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#7) On April 30, 2011 at 10:45 PM, ChrisGraley (28.62) wrote:

How does the Washington state senate agree to shut down an Oregon plant?

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