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EGEB: Seattle will permanently close 20 miles of streets to most vehicles

In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • Nearly 20 miles of Seattle streets will close to most vehicle traffic by the end of May for good.
  • Abandoned coal mines in the UK will be transformed into renewable energy systems.
  • One of the largest coal electricity plants in the US’s upper Midwest will close several years early.

The Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB): A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

Seattle embraces new pedestrian and cycling reality

Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan announced Thursday that nearly 20 miles of Seattle streets will permanently close to most vehicle traffic by the end of May, reports the Seattle Times.

Cities such as Seattle and Oakland closed streets to car traffic to give people a chance to socially distance while exercising during the pandemic. Seattle is going to make this a permanent step after the statewide stay-at-home order is lifted in order to reduce emissions. Walking and cycling may just be the greenest form of transport there is.

Residents, delivery drivers, garbage and recycling workers, and emergency response vehicles can continue to use the streets, but no through traffic is allowed.

It will cost between $100,000 and $200,000 to close the streets permanently. Durkan said:

As we assess how to make the changes that have kept us safe and healthy sustainable for the long term, we must ensure Seattle is rebuilding better than before. Safe and Healthy Streets are an important tool for families in our neighborhoods to get outside, get some exercise and enjoy the nice weather. Over the long term, these streets will become treasured assets in our neighborhoods.

Here’s Grist, explaining how open streets to increase walking and cycling space is unfolding:

Adaptive reuse of UK coal mines

Coal mines that have been dormant for more than 80 years in northeast England will be transformed into a green energy heating system as part of a new £7 million renewable energy plan.

The heating scheme will tap geothermal energy from the flooded underground mines of the former Hebburn Colliery east of Newcastle to heat South Tyneside Council buildings.

Joan Atkinson, South Tyneside councillor, said:

It is expected to deliver a reduction of 319 tonnes of carbon emissions a year, which will make it a key component in our drive to make the council carbon neutral by 2030. It will also help us meet our obligations to upgrade the energy performance of fuel-poor homes as it will be used to heat one of the town’s residential high-rise blocks.

The minewater heating system will be powered by solar panels.

Coal Creek Power Station closes

Minnesota’s Great River Energy will close the Coal Creek Power Station in North Dakota several years early because it says it is losing too much money, despite being adjacent to a coal mine. It will close one of the largest power plants in the US upper Midwest in the second half of 2022.

It will be replaced with new wind farms, including four in Minnesota. Great River said its carbon dioxide emissions will fall by 95% from the Minnesota benchmark year of 2005.

David Saggau, CEO of Great River, a nonprofit wholesale cooperative owned by 28 retail electricity co-ops, said [via the StarTribune]:

The real driver for this decision is economics.

[The drop in emissions] is not a driver of [closing Coal Creek], but it is a significant side benefit.

The StarTribune writes:

When the transformation is complete, Great River expects that two-thirds of its electricity will come from wind turbines. Much of the rest will come through purchases in the regional wholesale electricity market.

Electrek’s Take: So Saggau doesn’t see dropping emissions as a driver for shutting down coal. It’s about money for Great River. But ultimately, who cares? Economics, saving the environment: same result. Goodbye, Coal Creek Power Station, and hello wind farms. We all win in the end, regardless of motive.

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.