The Port of Seattle Commission has approved a 10-year supply contract with U.S. Gain for renewable natural gas (RNG). The move will enable the port to reach its 2030 goal to reduce carbon emissions by 50% almost a decade early.
The 'long-sought major milestone' was voted on at the Commission meeting on 14 April. The $23 million (€21.1 million) contract allows the port to purchase enough fuel to heat 55% of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and to power 100% of its bus fleet to reach its 50% port-wide carbon reduction goal. SEA will be the first airport in the country to utilise RNG for heating, according to the Commission.
The first fuel delivery is expected on 1 October. Commission vice-president Fred Felleman and founding chair of the Energy and Sustainability Committee said: "The Commission vote is another example of the port's environmental leadership, even in hard times. While it's critical that immediate attention is given to recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, we must continue to reduce our carbon footprint if we are to avoid the long-term economic and human costs associated with the climate crisis."
Natural gas accounts for 75% of the port's annual climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions. This contract with U.S. Gain will result in the reduction of around 11,000 tons of emissions the port directly produces from its own operations, and those from the energy it purchases. According to the Commission, this reduction is equivalent to heating 4,000 Seattle homes or taking 2,400 passenger vehicles off the roads each year.
"We are honoured to supply RNG to SEA and applaud them on achieving such an incredible milestone, well ahead of schedule," said Bryan Nudelbacher, director of RNG Business Development at U.S. Gain. "RNG is the immediate solution to reduce thermal and transportation-related carbon emissions and because of this, we're committed to developing new RNG projects that expand access to others seeking sustainability wins, like SEA."
The port's RNG supply comes from a landfill outside Washington state, as most large in-state landfills already capture and sell their RNG as electricity or transport fuel to California markets. California state legislation provides price incentives for low carbon fuels, according to the Commission, making it more lucrative for renewable fuel providers.
Over the past three years, the port has 'strongly supported' legislation creating a state-wide Clean Fuel Standard for Washington, which would help to create new incentives for businesses to produce these fuels for Washington. The port utilised RNG in 2014 but supply was transferred out of state due to the financial incentives in California. Once Washington has a clean fuel standard in place, the Port says it will no longer pay a premium for RNG or other renewable fuels used for transport.