Andy Wappler | 'Green economy' showing up with enthusiasm

The “green economy” came up and shook my hand the other day on Mercer Island. Then a few days later, we met again in Bellevue. Couple days after that, we bumped into each other in Pomeroy in the heart of the Palouse. I’m telling you, this green economy character gets around.

Remarkably, while the green economy looks different every time we meet, I can always spot it by its enthusiasm for being part of something powerful and positive.

On Mercer Island, the green economy was a group of neighbors meeting on a Saturday morning at the library to work on a sustainability vision for how their community could help the environment. While the goal of the group, called IslandVision, is to promote sustainable energy, recycling and other practices, their mission has the wonderful side benefit of being an innovative force for the economy.

What better stimulus is there than dollars spent (and ultimately saved with rebates and lower bills from Puget Sound Energy) on energy efficiency and other green practices? They’ll help the planet, and create new business opportunities and jobs. In fact, PSE estimates its energy efficiency programs have created 450 jobs in our area.

In Bellevue, a group of Lake Hills residents spent their day hauling a little green wagon of energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) from PSE door-to-door in an effort to swap inefficient outdoor lighting for something better.

With the help of PSE, Lake Hills got a bit greener (and safer, I might add) one porch light at a time. And with the average outdoor bulb aglow some 4,000 hours a year, the 75 percent energy savings of a CFL can really make a difference in your wallet.

Consider, too, that since PSE started distributing CFL bulbs to customers in 2002, the utility has discounted or given away more than 9.5 million CFL bulbs. Together, they saved Western Washington enough energy to power 35,000 homes for a year.

Over in the Palouse, the green buzz was about wind energy facilities (or wind farms, if you will). PSE already owns and operates about 100,000 homes worth of wind power at our existing facilities in Kittitas and Columbia counties, and now plans to triple the amount of wind power we generate by taking advantage of the strong, steady breezes that blow near Pomeroy and the neighboring town of Dayton.

Going green is about everything from leaving a legacy for future generations to starting a new business. Whatever your reason, getting a little greener is a great way to get to know the neighbors. Get involved, you’ll be glad you did.

Andy Wappler is a senior public relations manager at Puget Sound Energy. He looks forward to hearing from you at AskAndy@PSE.com.

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