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It was an electric visit to San Juan Island for the Governor

Governor Jay Inslee is convinced the five funded new electric ferries that will be built for Washington State Ferries are the best option. Monday, April 29, he came to Friday Harbor to share his enthusiasm and correct some misinformation. 

A ferry rider saw Inslee and called out asking the governor what he was going to do about ferries. He mentioned the five new ferries in the pipeline and the possibility of adding passenger-only ferries on the inter-island run.

He's heard people say the state should go with diesel ferries instead. That it would be quicker. WSF is in dire need of more ferries.

Inslee says it wouldn't be faster. The boats would have to be designed as the former manufacturer is no longer in business. The complicated bidding process would have to start over and would likely take a year.

The switch to the hybrid ferries is an essential part of the state's goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  WSF electrification project is explained in full on WSF's website.

Some excerpts: 

As the biggest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions among Washington state agencies, WSF burns approximately nineteen million gallons of diesel fuel to support nearly twenty million passengers every year. This innovative electrification program will drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save millions in fuel costs.

...The System Electrification Plan calls for delivering 16 new hybrid-electric vessels by 2040. WSF is currently seeking a shipbuilder to build the first five funded vessels. These five vessels will be the new Hybrid-Electric 160-Auto ferries, formerly referred to as the Hybrid-Electric Olympic Class or HEOC. WSF will post an Invitation for Bid (IFB) in spring 2024.

The funding for the electric ferries is coming from the Climate Commitment Act. The funding from the CCA auction of emission allowances is to be used to  support new investments in climate-resiliency programs, clean transportation, and addressing health disparities across the state.

Ferries weren't the only things on Inslee's mind Monday afternoon. He met with county interim manager Mark Tompkins, Parks Manager Brandon Andrews, County Council member Christine Minney at the fairgrounds. Andrews spoke about the solar panels on the main building roof. The funding came from the capital projects REET. According to Andrews, a significant amount of electricity is being generated and used for the fairgrounds, and other county facilities. 

And continuing the theme of climate friendly  projects, OPALCO General Manager Foster Hildreth, and Board member Vince Dauciunas showed up. They told Inslee about OPALCO's proposed Bailer Hill micro grid project.

Vince Dauciunas, Foster Hildreth, and Governor Inslee 

Hildreth said the project will be providing a source of funding for OPALCO's low income program. 

There are many projects across the nation that combine solar grids with agriculture. Sheep from a farmer on adjoining property will be grazing on the land. 

Inslee said he heard about one project that was going to use goats. One problem, goats love to jump onto things. There is, however, one breed that doesn't. That one was chosen.