Rotary Club of Olympia
The Wheel
 
Date: 5-17-2021
 
Today’s Program: Puget Sound Energy – Dan Koch
 
Meeting Called to order by President Sean Padget
 
Invocation by: Richard Hull – A message on resilience and a reflection on resilience in the religions of the world
 
Pledge of Allegiance led by: President Sean
 
Song: None
 
Four Way Test led by: President Sean Padget
 
Visiting Rotarians: None
 
Guest of Rotarians – None   
 
Happy Bucks – None
 
Announcements:
  • Rotary Point Park Cleanup – Saturday, May 22 10-noon
  • Board Meeting: 9:00 AM on Tuesday via Zoom
  • Available spots to sign up for Grub garden building
 
 
PROGRAM: Puget Sound Energy – Dan Koch
Introduction by Colleen Gillespie
 
Dan Koch is the VP of Operations and is in charge of vegetation management, construction management and power generation for Puget Sound Energy.  Prior to working at PSE, Dan was in the oil and offshore drilling industry and he lives in Redmond, WA and is a graduate of the prestigious University of Washington. 
 
Dan started his talk by stating that PSE has 1.5 million customers in Washington, with 1.1 million electric customers and 900,000 natural gas customers.  PSE has 200,000 customers in Thurston County and 3,100 employees in the Pacific NW. 
 
What happened in Texas? 25% of the power supply was already offline due to scheduled maintenance on solar and wind energy.  On February 14, the natural gas plants failed and cold temperatures caused demand to soar.  Dan said that this type of critical failure of the power grid was not expected to occur on the west coast due to the WECC system.  The WECC system controls most of the west, including El Paso, TX, where they did not experience the same outages and issue as the rest of Texas. 
 
Dan discussed critical issues on the west coast, and how the planned retirement of coal plants will leave a significant gap in resources over the next decade.  Because of the cold winters and increasingly warm summers in the PNW, the demand for power is at an all-time high in the winter and summer.  The retirement of coal plants will be a resource loss that will need to be replaced and they are not sure how it will be replaced at this time. 
 
PSE is committed to getting to a 100% carbon free electric supply by 2045 and net zero carbon emissions for all PSE operations and electric supply by 2030.  Aspirational objectives include reducing customer end use carbon emissions by 30% by 2030 and net zero carbon emissions by customers by 2045.  PSE is helping other sectors reduce carbon by using electric vehicles, using liquefied natural gas for long haul and marine services, using renewable natural gas/hydrogen and other low carbon fuels for transportation and other applications and upstream methane emission reduction. 
 
Dan answered many audience questions, including the following:
Is hydrogen gas safe? Hydrogen will be blended with natural gas to make sure it is safe and works effectively in existing appliances.
 
Will we see more nuclear energy in Washington?  Dan does not believe there will be any nuclear energy as a result of perceived safety risks and the problem of nuclear waste.
 
What is the future of dams?  Dan sees that there is a path to improving the fish population and improving salmon runs and continued hydro power. 
 
Is there a future in tidal energy?  There is a high cost to invest in emerging technologies and tidal is not a feasible access point at this time. 
 
What is renewable natural gas? It is naturally produced natural gas that comes from places like landfills and decomposing organics.
 
What about bird and bat deaths related to wind turbines?  There are always unexpected challenges related to new technologies and they are currently working on new programs to improve the safety. 
 
Geothermal energy? PSE has no plans to use geothermal at this time.
 
What about burning garbage to produce energy? This technology exists and does work.
Dairy digester technology eliminates methane, which is higher impact than CO2.
 
Are we going to see more use of dehumidifiers?  This technology exists, but is not as effective as air conditioners. 
 
Meeting Adjourned by President Sean Padget