As a well-known Native American proverb says, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” This wisdom encourages us to make environmentally friendly decisions that protect our environment and its natural resources for future generations. Here in Lewis County, many companies are working hard to create a more environmentally sustainable future – and grow our economy in exciting new ways.

Skookumchuck Wind Farm

Puget Sound Energy's Skookumchuck Wind Energy Project
The Skookumchuck Wind Facility is the first large-scale wind project located in Western Washington and the first in the state located on working forest land. Photo courtesy: Southern Power

Together with TransAlta, Southern Power’s Skookumchuck Wind Project produces up to 137-megawatts of wind energy, which will be purchased by Puget Sound Energy under a 20-year agreement. It’s the largest wind project in Western Washington and, located on Weyerhaeuser timberland in Lewis and Thurston Counties, is the first of its kind on working forest land.

PSE aggregated customer interest in new renewable energy resources, in order to commit to the purchase of power from this large-scale project for its Green Direct program. Organizations committed to the project (and reducing their carbon footprint) include Sound Transit, Western Washington University, Port of Seattle, Costco, REI, and the Capitol Campus. With PSE’s Skookumchuck Wind Project and Green Direct program, these organizations are taking huge steps toward clean electricity and accelerating their move to decarbonization.

Zero-Emission Transit

Green Future of Lewis County
Twin Transit’s diesel bus being remanufactured into clean energy electric. Photo courtesy: Twin Transit

Twin Transit is actively going green with the introduction of two new electric buses. These zero-emission vehicles were repurposed from old diesel buses using a Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) Grant and VW Settlement funds. The new busses will feature all-electric drivetrain systems that reduce waste and maximize resources while decreasing pollution and cost. In addition to being better for the environment, these buses are also more comfortable for riders, offering a smoother, quieter ride.

This spring, Twin Transit will unveil the new Mellen Street e-Transit Station. This new transit hub will feature public transit, ample parking, electric vehicle charging, and easy access for bicyclists and pedestrians. A system of in-ground wave induction charging will bump-charge the electric buses, ensuring a full service day and prolonged battery life.

Not only are these projects good for our environment, but they also inject a strong economic boost into our local economy. The multi-million-dollar grant-funded Mellen Street e-Transit Station provides local jobs and supports local businesses – a major win for our community.

Clean-Energy Healthcare

Providence Health & Services
Installed by South Sound Solar, the array of solar panels is the largest of any healthcare provider in Washington. Photo courtesy: Providence Health & Services

Providence Centralia is also working to preserve our environment, with a goal to be carbon negative by 2030. The organization recently remodeled its roof to include 280 solar panels, thanks to TransAlta funding.

The panels cover about 75 percent of the hospital’s C wing roof and produce more than 111,000 kilowatt-hours of clean energy per year. The power created by the panels streams into the hospital’s electrical system to help power its building and equipment. In addition to being more environmentally friendly, the panels help the hospital save over $10,000 in electricity every year.

Electric Car Infrastructure

Energy Northwest was recently awarded $1.15 Million to install electric car charging stations along the White Pass Scenic Byway. This includes stations in Lewis and Yakima Counties, which will finally make it possible for electric cars to successfully complete this beautiful, scenic drive. This project will support tourism along Highway 12 and facilitate the adoption of electric vehicles in the area.

The Future of Clean Energy

Since 2004, The Center of Excellence for Clean Energy has been a national leader in developing partnerships among business, industry, labor and education. Based at Centralia College, the Center’s purpose is to enhance economic and workforce development initiatives to meet the needs of the clean energy industry. This organization supports the transition to a cleaner energy future through the development of a highly-skilled workforce.

With 20 community college energy-sector programs offered throughout Washington, the Center of Excellence supports the industry’s diverse workforce needs and technological advances, such as smart grid, solar, energy efficiency, hydro and wind energy technology. Graduates of the program are skilled and ready to take on high-wage energy industry jobs.

You Can Help!

Victory Garden
Use available space, big and small to create a garden. Photo credit: Madrona DeLong

You don’t have to be a big business to go green. There are many ways families can help protect the environment. Spending time together outdoors, enjoying nature and being active, teaches children the importance of environmental conservation. Plus, it’s good for your mental health.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Spruce up the yard together.
  • Plant trees or a garden.
  • Create a fun outdoor game.
  • Clean up a roadway in your neighborhood (whoever has the most trash wins!)
  • Research ways to save money with energy- and waste-reduction techniques.
  • Build a compost bin for food scraps or learn to worm compost.

*Lewis County offers information on ways to be a more environmentally friendly household including Master Composter/Recycler workshops and trainings.

With renewable energy production, more environmentally friendly transportation, clean energy education and families committed to energy and waste reduction, Lewis County is moving toward a more sustainable future. Together we can be good stewards of our resources. By so doing, we will benefit our community and maximize our local economic, social and environmental potential.

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