Puget Sound Power completes first manure power purchase
“Green power” comes out of the Qualco Energy biomass digester south of Monroe’s suburban sprawl, but what goes in is runny, steamy and brown in the morning sunlight. You don’t want it on your shoes.
This past week Puget Sound Energy bought its first batch of electricity from the digester. That culminates more than five years of political, financial and mechanical engineering by Qualco, an innovative nonprofit formed by local farmers, the Tulalip Tribes and a salmon-advocacy group.
“It’s a win-win-win-win” for those interests and others who “would rather have cows than condos” in these fields near the confluence of the Skykomish and Snohomish rivers, says Qualco president Dale Reiner, a third-generation local who farms a few hundred acres down the road.
Qualco will get about $300,000 a year for providing Puget enough electricity to power an estimated 280 homes, says utility spokesman Andy Wappler. In addition to a standard wholesale price for electricity, Puget pays a “Green Power” premium funded by customers who voluntarily contribute a monthly surcharge to support renewable energy.