Eye on the UUniverse: At the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC)

Rev. Jaco B. ten Hove, co-minister

By request, below is my statement of Thursday, October 10, made in person and submitted in testimony to the WA State Utilities and Transportation Commission hearing in Olympia, regarding their review of Puget Sound Energy’s controversial 20-year “Integrated Resource Plan.” In my allotted three minutes I attempted to forthrightly apply UU principles to a pressing issue of our time: COAL.

In the spirit,




Thank you, Commissioners, for taking our concerns seriously. I wish to offer an avowedly religious perspective. I started ministering in the Seattle area in 1988, in the context of Unitarian Universalism, in which discipline I was raised. Our 11-syllable mouthful of a name connects us to two aspects of existence that are very pertinent here.

Unitarian means an abiding awareness of and fidelity to the Unity of all life, the oneness, the interconnectedness—elusive as all that may feel at times. Universalism means we believe that at the heart, at the core of that oneness is the power of Love, universally. The most compelling message taught by Jesus is to love one another. That instruction animates many if not most world religions—elusive as it may feel at times. When any of us are at our best, we are loving one another.

So Unitarian Universalists tend to apply the twin lens of Unity and Love to issues of our day, as our ancestors have been doing for centuries in their own ways. I urge you to consider in this matter the fundamental interdependence of all life, which is no longer a subject of debate since scientists have demonstrated it conclusively, increasingly so. There are moral implications to this awareness, especially if we honor a commandment to love one another.

What is proposed by PSE in their so-called Integrated Resource Plan instead demonstrates a willful, myopic ignorance of our fundamental unity and interconnectedness, by promoting an unnecessary dependence on coal—a destructive and unhealthy resource that cannot be integrated into a morally just worldview. Just because energy can be cheaply acquired by digging and burning coal does not mean it should be, when so much else is at stake. And the deeper, deferred costs of their Plan must be factored in, morally.

In our time, we all are called to move with some urgency to recover and protect the planetary environment we share and presumably love, along with its people, many of whom are and will be very adversely affected by PSE’s current plans. Please inspire PSE instead to be more creative with our future, more responsible to the bottom line of Unity and Love. Thank you again.