Letter to the Editor: A single source of energy can be dangerous when that source fails

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

To the Editor:

On December 6th, Shoreline City Council passed Ordinance 948 banning fossil fuel heating from all new 4+ story multi-family dwellings. Our activist City Council is thankfully prevented from doing this to all residential construction by state law, but they openly stated that they intend to lobby other municipalities and the state to spread this idea. Don't think that they wouldn't ban gas from all residential construction if they were given the statutory authority.

As of December 27th, PSE reports 7000 households without electricity. These outages are concentrated around Sedro-Woolley where it is currently 9 degrees. Roads are essentially impassable without 4WD. People in outage areas who have only electricity are in a real bind. They have no furnace, no stove, and no hot water. Meanwhile, people with gas/propane can cook a hot meal and take a hot bath, since gas water heaters do not require external power. Those fortunate enough to have wood stoves are toasty.

While we struggle with bone-chilling temperatures, what is to become of people left freezing in the dark? If they can't make it to a warming shelter because they are snowbound, is their best option to eat cold canned food and to hunker under a mountain of quilts? Will some of them bring outdoor grills inside for the warmth? Approximately 17 people die every year from doing exactly that. Many more die of hypothermia.

Fortunately, we aren't having power outages here in Shoreline, but we have the tree canopy to take down the power lines if windy conditions develop. What happens then?

Robustness matters when it comes to household energy sources. A single source of energy can be dangerous when that source fails, and electricity tends to fail at the most inopportune times. Able-bodied people will trudge through the snow to find a warming shelter. How many of our frail, elderly, and/or disabled can do the same? If their phone runs out of power, they could even find themselves unable to call for help.

A poorly conceived law like Ordinance 948 has consequences. Instead of spending so much energy dabbling in state and national climate policy, the City Council needs to narrow its focus and consider how its citizens survive emergencies.

Dan Adams


Joanie December 30, 2021 at 1:24 PM  

I totally agree with Mr Adams. 948 is absolutely the most idiotic thing I have heard of...except ban guns, but lighten the sentence of drive-by shooters???? Everything is getting totally political and Gov Inslee changes the narrative to suit his own needs....running for President "Washington is ahead of the curve" Climate pledge "we need to do better" Tax on Carbon, yet our leaders fly private all over this world???? Just say'n

Anonymous,  December 30, 2021 at 5:23 PM  

I agree with the basic premise of moving to all electric, but we need to make sure we have multiple sources, robust infrastructure, more solar, more generation before we remove gas. I get that the extraction process that provides gas is problematic but we can't get the cart before the horse. Learn from what happened in California when then Gov Reagan closed the state hospitals in favor of community clinics which were never funded or built - that is cited as the beginning of the incredible homeless/mental health crisis we are now in.

Joanie December 31, 2021 at 10:52 AM  

and we have to figure out what to do with all those dead batteries and figure out how much damage we are doing to extract the things they need to build batteries...could be the same damage as fossil fuels. only time is going to tell

Anonymous,  December 31, 2021 at 1:30 PM  

I agree with multiple sources of energy AND eliminating fossil fules.
Solar energy, Wind, Hydro, etc are great options. Being "off-the-grid" with solar pannels on the roof of your house is much better than being 1 of a million on a regional system that is down. At least you can help neighbors who don't have heating. I had oil heat, but still needed electricity to start the furnace. How helpful is that!

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