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Seattle Times:

Puget Sound Energy, Washington’s largest private utility, has signed a 20-year contract to purchase wind power in Southeast Montana as part of a major shift away from coal- and gas-generated electricity.

PSE will buy 350 megawatts of power, enough electricity for about 140,000 homes, from NextEra Energy Resources, which is building the Clearwater Wind Project in three counties of Southeast Montana, according to a statement released Wednesday by PSE.

The wind project is expected to begin generating power at the end of 2022. It is some 60 miles north of Colstrip, Montana, where PSE is part-owner of a coal plant that has long generated electricity for the Puget Sound region.

Under Washington state law, PSE is required to stop using coal-fired power by 2025 and stop using fossil fuels to generate electricity by 2045 unless some way is found to curb the release of carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. Meanwhile, PSE, which also supplies natural gas to residential and business customers, earlier this year announced a corporate goal of reducing its carbon footprint to net-zero emissions by 2045.

This will require big changes for the utility, which in 2019 derived 66% of all its electricity from fossil fuels. And corporate officials say that part of the replacement plan involves Montana wind, which blows strongest in the winter when demand for electricity typically is strongest in the Puget Sound region.

[Hal Bernton]

More: Puget Sound Energy turns to Montana wind power in push to reduce carbon emissions

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