Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category


State Grants of $14.3 Million Position Washington as Energy Storage Leader

UniEnergy Technologies       avista-no-corp       Puget Sound Energy       snopud-image_preview

Avista Utilities, Snohomish PUD and Puget Sound Energy have been awarded $14.3 million in matching grants from the state’s new Clean Energy Fund to lead energy storage projects with ties to federally funded research at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Gov. Jay Inslee and the state Department of Commerce announced the grants on Tuesday, July 8, at the Mukilteo, WA, facility of UniEnergy Technologies (UET). Snohomish PUD and Avista Utilities will install UET’s all-vanadium redox flow batteries as part of their projects. PNNL developed the battery technology with six years of funding from DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.

Uni.System“We’re using our Clean Energy Fund to position Washington State as a leader in energy storage and work with utilities to develop technologies and strategies that will move the market for renewables forward,” said Gov. Inslee. “Delivering operational value for our utilities is crucial if we’re going to successfully develop and deploy clean energy technologies that save energy and reduce energy costs, reduce carbon emissions, and increase our energy independence.” Read More…


Should We Build New Nuclear Reactors in Washington?

Governor Christine Todd Whitman spoke to WCTA members and others at an event co-sponsored by the Washington Clean Technology Alliance and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. Photos below are from that event.

By John Stang, Crosscut


Governor Whitman with WCTA President Tom Ranken

Could our state build reactors again more than 30 years after it suffered through the plagued construction of Washington Public Power Supply System Reactors Nos. 1, 2 and 3?

That’s one question a legislative task force will consider. The eight-member task force met for the first time Wednesday in Olympia. It is supposed to have recommendations for the full Legislature by Dec.1 on such questions as whether to create new reactors either to supply power to the state or to export mini-reactors elsewhere.

“This is more to gather information on should we have a nuclear policy,” said task force member Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip.

The task force emerged from Gov. Jay inslee’s push to reduce greenhouse gases. Their build up in the atmosphere lowers the pH of the oceans and raises temperatures, which threatens the snowpacks that provide the state’s water. Inslee has mainly pushed various ideas to tackle existing carbon emissions sources. GOP legislators to consider want non-carbon-emitting nuclear reactors to be part of the solution. Enough Democrats agree, leading to the formation of the task force. Read More…


Welcome Helion Energy, 2013 Clean Tech Open Semifinalist!

Helion Energy's fusion reactor

Helion Energy’s fusion reactor

We would like to welcome Clean Tech Open semifinalist, Helion Energy to the Washington Clean Technology Alliance. Helion Energy, based out of Redmond, WA, is a startup company seeking to build a practical nuclear fusion system for commercial utility.

For some time now, an ideal future fueled by unlimited, affordable energy has been just a few years away. Eight years ago, the Helion Energy team started developing a significantly different approach to how we think about fusion energy. They pursued energy generation from a modestly sized reactor built in small modules, the goal being: design a small, compact, safe and commercially profitable fusion reactor. In 2010, Helion Energy successfully demonstrated their third prototype and validated their work with $5M in DOE funding and an IAEA award.

Based on recent breakthrough research, the Fusion Engine is the only demonstrated fusion energy source capable of producing both on demand and baseload power at low cost and with minimal environmental impact. With its pulsed magnetic field design, the Helion team may have found a niche in the fusion landscape: a reliable, affordable reactor that doesn’t require steam turbines or complex tritium systems.


Fusion Reactor

In Helion’s reactor, electric currents flowing inside the plasma reverse the direction of a magnetic field that’s applied from the outside; the new, closed field that results effectively confines the plasma. “Compared to the tokamak and NIF, Helion’s reactor is relatively compact and low-cost,” says Richard Milroy, a physicist at the University of Washington who isn’t affiliated with Helion. “Utilities don’t need to invest billions for the first test reactor to see if things will work out.” Plus, he says, the plasma-formation area is separate from the burn chamber in Helion’s reactor, so its expensive components may last longer (Svoboda, Elizabeth. “Is Fusion Power Finally For Real?” Popular Mechanics).

They believe with about $35M in research and development funding they can demonstrate a full scale reactor as well as complete the engineering and design of a commercial power plant, with an additional $200M, by 2019.




Renewable energy generation is cost-competitive with fossil fuel generation sources

Renewable energy becoming more cost-competitive with fossil fuels is not news – as technology improves and more clean power generation comes online, electricity without emissions gets cheaper.  One study shows just how much cheaper it’s become.

According to Lazard’s Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis, released by global financial advisor and asset manager firm Lazard Freres & Co, utility-scale solar photovoltaics (PV) and leading types of wind energy are leading the surge in clean energy technologies – the LCOE of both power sources has fallen by more than 50% since 2008. Lazard estimates that utility-scale solar PV is now a competitive source of peak energy compared to fossil fuel power in many parts of the world without subsidies.

In fact, Lazard finds certain forms of renewable energy generation are now cost-competitive with many fossil fuel generation sources at an unsubsidized LCOE, even before factoring in externalities like pollution or transmission costs. Specifically, solar PV and wind energy both fall within the range of $68-$104 per MWh, making them extremely competitive with baseload power from coal ($65-$145 per MWh), nuclear ($86-$122 per MWh), and integrated gasification combined cycle ($95-$154 per MWh).

The most promising potential for the future of renewable energy sources may be their value as distributed small-scale generation. Lazard estimates that the expensive capital construction costs of fossil fuel generation boosts their LCOE when utilities consider future resource planning across an integrated system, and make them less cost-competitive – without even considering externalities.

Read the original article here.Screen-shot-2013-09-11-at-1.51.39-PMUS energy capital cost comparison chart via Lazard.


Welcome Biomethane, 2013 Clean Tech Open Semi-finalist!


Biomethane, a startup founded by Western Washington University graduate Kathlyn Kinney and Vehicle Research Institute director Eric Leonhardt, works with farmers to create carbon-negative fuel from dairy waste in Lynden, WA.

Biodigesters have experienced limited payback thus far by selling electricity to the grid. Depending on local utility rates, biomethane sold at $3/gallon equivalent has a two-to-five times higher payback than biogas used for electricity generation.

The pilot station in Lynden is fed with biogas by a digester built in 2004, the longest running in the state. It was installed as part of an effort to support the family-owned and operated dairy.

Besides supplying raw biogas, which could be sold at over $150,000 per year, the digester provides dry bedding for the farm, a savings of $10,000 per month. “If dairy farming on the west coast is to survive, we need to move ahead with projects like this,” says Darryl Vander Haak, owner of Vander Haak Dairy.

The fueling station sells natural gas fuel to Bellair Airporter Shuttles. Once the station is completed, purified biomethane will power their route between Vancouver, BC, and Sea-Tac, WA.

Based upon a 1,200 cow farm, Biomethane estimates that it could earn over $2,000 a day by selling the energy as transportation fuel instead of electricity.

Read the original release here: Biomethane Release


Discount for WCTA Members to Washington’s Leading Clean Energy Conference

Returning for its fourth year, the Washington Future Energy Conference has become the state’s “must-attend” clean energy event. Presented by Northwest Environmental Business Council (NEBC) and the Washington State Department of Commerce, this unique conference provides an unmatched forum for learning, networking, and business development – bringing together those engaged or interested in the new energy economy. Last year’s 350+ attendees included:

  • Project developers & potential project owners
  • Engineers, consultants, attorneys & other service providers
  • Equipment & technology providers
  • Energy investors & financiers
  • Industrial & commercial facility managers
  • Utility managers
  • Government agency representatives
  • Economic development professionals
  • Building designers, architects & owners
  • Researchers, academia, NGOs
  • Those interested in becoming part of the industry
  • Others promoting a strong local economy

The 2013 Agenda Includes Educational & Discussion Sessions Covering:

  • The Context for Clean Energy in Washington
  • The Business of Renewable Energy
  • Efficiency in Buildings
  • New Fuels for Transportation

Download the invitation: WA_Future Energy_2013_Partner_Invitation

***WCTA Members receive a discount on the meeting***



WCTA Breakfast Panel: Leadership and Sustainability

The view early in a summer morning from Camp Brinkley Is there a difference between good business management and sustainability? Not according to the WCTA panel on December 6, 2012, which was moderated by WCTA Board Member John Gardner, Vice President and Dean of the Bainbridge Graduate Institute.

Kevin Wilhelm of Sustainable Business Consulting said sustainability is almost completely consistent with hard-nosed business thinking.  It is entirely consistent with corporate objectives:  maximizing returns, cutting costs, improving brand, and maximizing shareholder value.  No one, according to Kevin, is implementing sustainability because ‘it is the right thing to do.’  It is implemented–and widely–by individual business  cases.

TJ DiCaprio reported that Microsoft is motivated by achieving business objectives, corporate citizenship, and reducing energy consumption.  Carbon is now priced at Microsoft and it is reflected in business unit performance measurement.  Pollution and sustainability needed to be translated into business relevant terms, she said, and then they become a compelling business came for management.  Information technology is the source of 2% of global emissions.  Find TJ’s presentation slides here and Microsoft’s Becoming Carbon Neutral document here.

Jim Hannah of Starbucks emphasized that employee retention is an important benefit of the company’s sustainability programs.  He told us that every new store will be LEEDS certified.  Sustainability is part of Starbuck’s DNA, but it needed to be translated into understandable business terms within the company.

Patrick Drum of the Arbor Group UBS told us that current metrics to evaluate socially responsible investing didn’t even exist six months ago.  Find Patrick’s presentation here.

Find YouTube video of the conference here.  (It is divided into 10 minute segments.)  Section 1 | Section 2 | Section 3 | Section 4 | Section 5 | Section 6 | Section 7 | Section 8

Here are short bios of the panelists:

  • John Gardner, Bainbridge Graduate InstituteJohn Gardner, Vice President and Dean, Bainbridge Graduate Institute, Moderator.  John has been a key leader in the growth of BGI over the past two years.  Prior, he was VP at WSU responsible for leveraging WSU’s assets for economic growth and vitality of the state.  He filled a similar role at Missouri as VP for Research and Economic Development. In all, he has been a student, faculty member, or administrator at five land grant universities.  Gardner is a native of the Kansas City area and earned degrees in agriculture and agronomy at Kansas State and a PhD at Nebraska in plant physiology. Though most of his career has been in the US Great Plains, his graduate work in both institutions was supported by US-AID in the sorghum/millet program INTSORMIL directed at Africa and India. While at the Missouri, his international research and development efforts focused on East Asia.  He spent twenty years in ND, much of it as Director of the NDSU Carrington Research Extension Center.  His work on the domestication of new crops led to business interests throughout the 1990’s. He was one of the founders and chief executive of AgGrow Oils, a 540 member LLC that integrated the production, processing, and marketing of both novel and designer oilseeds.
  • TJ Dicaprio, Microsoft CorporationTamara “TJ” DiCaprio, Sr. Director, Carbon and Renewable Energy Policy, Microsoft:  TJ is responsible for designing and managing Microsoft’s new carbon neutral policy with internal carbon fee model that drives accountability while supporting efficiency and green projects.  TJ has worked for Microsoft for 15 year, and has over 25 years of experience in the technology industry.  She brings an educational background of Environmental Studies and Energy from the UC Santa Barbara and graduate work from Marylhurst, as well as a history of policy leadership to the role.   TJ is a certified pilot and enjoys sailing and diving.  She has led several expeditions piloting aircraft across the Americas and South Africa and sailed extensively off the coast of North America, French Polynesia, Croatia, and Turkey. TJ is a member of the Explorer’s Club and a Founding Member of the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum.
  • Jim Hanna, Director, Environmental Impact, Starbucks Coffee Company:   Jim HannaSince joining Starbucks in 2005, Jim has collaborated with partner corporations and nongovernmental organizations to help shape the company’s environmental strategy.  He contributes to enterprise-wide initiatives that support green building, energy conservation, international procurement, recycling, and waste reduction efforts.  Prior to Starbucks, Jim served as Director of Environmental Affairs for Xanterra Parks & Resorts at Yellowstone National Park.  In the position, he oversaw many progressive environmental initiatives in  operations as the primary concessionaire in the park including an ISO 14001-certified Environmental Management System.   Before escaping to Yellowstone, he worked as Director of Operations for Teris Environmental in Los Angeles, managing the company’s seven offices in North America.  A native of Olympia, Jim earned a BS in Environmental Sciences from WSU and is a U.S. Green Building Council LEED-accredited professional.  He serves on the board of directors for the National Recycling Coalition, Washington Environmental Council, and Yellowstone Park Foundation.
  • Kevin Wilhelm, Sustainable Business ConsultingKevin Wilhelm, CEO, Sustainable Business Consulting:  Kevin is a highly regarded business consultant in the field of sustainability and climate change.  He is the CEO of Sustainable Business Consulting, a Seattle-based consulting firm focused on practical solutions that deliver profit improvement through the use of sustainable business practices.  Kevin brings over 16 years of experience working with businesses ranging from Fortune 500 multinationals to government agencies to renewable energy start-ups.  Some of his clients include Nordstrom, REI, The North Face, Coinstar/Redbox,, and BECU.  His firm works with companies to measure their sustainability and carbon impacts, develop successful implementation goals and strategies, engage employees through sustainability training, and help them communicate their CSR efforts both internally and externally.  He is the author of the acclaimed Return on Sustainability: How Business Can Increase Profitability & Address Climate Change in an Uncertain Economy.  He is an adjunct professor at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute where he teaches Sustainable Business.
  • Patrick T. Drum CFA, CFP, Financial Advisor and Senior Portfolio Manager at the Arbor Group/UBS Financial Services Inc. provided an overview of new practices in evaluating social responsibility in companies.
  • December 6, 2012
  • Fourth & Madison Building, 925 Fourth Ave, 18th Floor Conference Room, Seattle
  • This event sold out.

This was the first part of a two part series exploring corporate sustainability.


Craft3: Get the Financing You Need

The Seattle Chamber is pleased to announce the second in their “How to do Business With…” series designed to help small businesses connect and do business with large corporations. At this session, Sue Taoka, Executive Vice President, Craft3, and a distinguished group of finance experts, will share their knowledge, insights and tips on how to “close the deal for a loan.”

Craft3 is a non-profit community development financial institution with a mission to strengthen economic, ecological and family resilience in Pacific Northwest communities. They provide loans and assistance to entrepreneurs, non-profits, individuals and others who don’t normally have access to financing. They complement these financial resources with their expertise, networks and other advocacy services.

Meet the Craft3 experts who will lead the following discussions:

  • Arnie Gunderson: Has your bank turned you down? – Let’s see what we can do.
  • Walter Acuna: Lending to start-ups – what you need to know
  • Carol Lee: Why is my lender asking for so much paper?
  • Andy Wolz: Consumer energy lending
  • Greg Bradley: What does credit mean?
  • Page Palmer: Share career and business opportunities with Craft3

How to do Business With Craft3
Date: Tue, December 11, 2012
Time: Noon – 1:30 p.m.
Location: Rainier Square Conference Center, 1333 5th Ave., Seattle 98101
Cost: $10 (lunch provided)
Register: Online or contact Larry Pike at | (206) 389-7215
(Click here for your login and password)

© Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce |
1301 5th Ave., Ste. 2500, Seattle, WA 98101


Snohomish PUD & 1Energy Partner on Energy Storage Innovation

WCTA Gold Member Snohomish County Public Utility District and 1Energy Systems will partner to develop and deploy an innovative approach to energy storage aimed at helping electric utilities increase their use of renewable energy and improve overall reliability. Read More…

Events & Meetings