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King County Executive
Dow Constantine

Executive Constantine outlines actions and investments for saving energy and taxpayer dollars


King County Executive Dow Constantine today unveiled an Energy Plan that will continue and expand County efforts to reduce energy use, stimulate development of green technologies, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and save taxpayer dollars.


News Conference

King County Executive Dow Constantine today unveiled an Energy Plan that will continue and expand County efforts to reduce energy use, stimulate development of green technologies, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and save taxpayer dollars.

Since 2007, the County has initiated 46 major energy projects, resulting in annual energy savings of more than $2 million. The County anticipates receiving an additional $3.9 million in incentive payments from local utilities and federal grants supporting these projects.

“This 2010 King County Energy Plan builds on these investments and supports my reform agenda’s focus on improving the sustainability and efficiency of County operations,” said Constantine. “We’ve taken advantage of incentives from local utilities to make investments that produce long-term savings and partnered with private sector companies to produce energy from existing County facilities such as the Cedar Hills Landfill and the West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant.”

The 2010 Energy Plan sets the following goals:

  • Produce, use, or purchase renewable energy equal to 50 percent of total County energy requirements by 2012
  • Reduce energy usage in County buildings by 10 percent by 2012, and in County vehicles by 10 percent by 2015

Constantine, joined by representatives of Puget Sound Energy, Seattle City Light, McKinstry, and Bio Energy of Washington at a press event, stressed the importance of partnerships with utilities, contractors, and entrepreneurs.

Seattle City Light and Puget Sound Energy have provided efficiency and conservation incentives, while an innovative partnership with McKinstry, a consulting and construction firm that specializes in energy and facility services, allows King County to use guaranteed energy savings to finance efficiency investments.  In partnership with groups such as New Energy Solutions, King County is also gearing up to support the arrival of commercially available electric cars by installing electric vehicle charging stations at County facilities.

The Energy Plan is intended not only to direct County efforts to reduce energy use, but also to encourage projects that produce renewable energy.  A joint venture with green energy pioneer Bio Energy of Washington captures methane gas at the Cedar Hills Landfill that will generate enough electricity to power 24,000 homes. The County has also kicked off a project to improve waste-to-energy production at the West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant.

King County is also ‘greening’ its fleet of buses, vans, and cars.  In addition to nearly 160 electric trolley buses, Metro has 285 hybrid buses and operates the largest public vanpool program in the country with more than 1,000 vans.

“The Energy Plan calls for continued investment in hybrid buses, which are 47 percent more fuel efficient than conventional diesel buses, have substantially lower maintenance costs, and significantly reduce air pollution,” said Constantine.  “These kinds of investments not only reduce fuel use in the region, but also are essential to meeting the County’s long-term climate goals.”

Constantine also recognized six Energy Heroes—County staff members who have worked behind the scenes to identify opportunities for improving energy efficiency, and who have taken the initiative to move projects forward.

“We are creating a culture of continuous improvement. We’re empowering our employees—the true experts—to identify opportunities for savings,” said Constantine.

The Executive recognized:

  • Syd Pawlowski, Rideshare Operations Supervisor: As manager of the nation’s largest publicly owned and operated rideshare program, Pawlowski and his team were instrumental in a building a fleet of 1,088 commuter vans, and providing 3 million trips annually. By reducing the number of daily car commuters by more than 5,600, the Rideshare program reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 23,237 tons per year and fuel consumption by more than 2.4 million equivalent gallons of fossil fuel consumed per year.
  • Phil Johnson, Building Operating Engineer and Ron Quist (Supervising Engineer, recently retired), Transit Division: Johnson and Quist developed and reviewed designs for heating and cooling improvements at Metro Transit Bus Bases. These improvements are on track to reduce energy use by 30 percent, and save $100,000 annually.
  • Laura Belt, Engineer and Matt McCollum, Operator, Solid Waste Division: Belt and McCollum spearheaded a new approach to maintaining the systems that collect wastewater from the Cedar Hills Landfill. They identified and tested new approaches that have reduced energy use for aeration pumps by 50 percent, saving $54,000 a year and cutting overall Solid Waste Division Energy Use by 10 percent.
  • John Willenbacher, Energy Manager, Facilities Management Division:  After experiencing a 40 percent rate increase in 2007, and a 6 percent rate increase in 2008 to heat the King County Courthouse with steam, the County began working with contractor McKinstry to conduct detailed investment-grade audits in 2007 to identify potential energy savings. As a result, Willenbacher worked with McKinstry to change the primary heat sources from steam to highly-efficient internal natural gas-fired boilers, which is estimated to have reduced heating costs by 47 percent, and prevented a $3 million overhaul of the steam system that would have been required if the County had retained that heat delivery method.

The Energy Plan has been transmitted to council for review and approval.

Related information:

King County Executive
Dow Constantine
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Read the Executive's biography