Bellingham Climate Action Task Force – Update

May 31, 2019

The Bellingham City Council, on May 7, 2018, adopted a Resolution stating that the City would, by 2030 and 2035, seek to achieve some very ambitious goals concerning use of renewable energy for, among other uses, transportation and residential construction (existing and future).

The new Resolution mandated includes but is not limited to the following:

Section 1 – The City administration would begin reviewing all planning documents (growth, land use, and development regulations) to ensure consistency with the new climate action goals established in this Resolution;

Section 2 – The City administration would implement the climate action into all aspects of city policies and procedures;

Section 5 – Establishes the “ambitions” that Bellingham meet the following goals:
-100% renewable energy for all municipal operations by 2030;
-100% renewable energy for “Bellingham community electrical supply” by 2030; and
-100% renewable energy for “community heating and transportation” by 2035.

Erin McDade, Architect from the Community and Staff Climate Action Plan Task Force, states “Coupled with select policy interventions – including net zero carbon for new construction after a specified date, and substituting electricity for natural gas in existing buildings – this may make the City’s expected trajectory achievable if certain policies are adopted and fully implemented.”

-Bellingham has ~24,000 buildings smaller than 10,000 square feet, 80% are single family houses, and 14% are multifamily residences;

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Perry Eskridge from the Whatcom County Association of Realtors says “I can see both pros and cons to implementing this policy, but I can state one thing for certain: If we proceed in this manner without a solid grasp of the real science behind the status of the electrical grid and without a reasonable timeline allowing technology to meet our ambitions, the impacts will be great and the substantial costs will create hardships for many Bellingham residents. Remember, we have been in a declared “housing crisis” in Bellingham since 2012 and, according to the city’s last report to Housing and Urban Development, nearly 50% of Bellingham households are currently cost burdened or severely cost burdened in their homes – absent a mandate to electrify by 2035. According to some of our colleagues, households with little or no equity in their homes due to financing considerations could easily find themselves unable to sell if, prior to listing their home, they are required to replace a furnace, hot water heater, and gas appliances for a home they are looking to vacate.”

You may find the original Resolution No. 2018-06 RIGHT HERE!

You can find the Task Force’s Agendas and Meeting Summaries RIGHT HERE!