Everyone wants to clean up state energy sector, but parties disagree on how

Partisan versions of bills proposed in House to transition Washington power

By Emma Scher

WNPA Olympia News Bureau

OLYMPIA — Democrats and Republicans both want to turn Washington into a clean energy state, but they just don’t agree on how to do it.

House Bill 1211, proposed by state Rep. Gael Tarleton, D-Seattle, would require public utilities to provide all energy through non-emitting, renewable resources by 2045, or face penalties.

House Bill 1226, proposed by state Rep. Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, would create incentives for public utility companies that invest in renewable energy.

“We shouldn’t pick winners and losers. We should set our priorities and have people choose our priorities,” said DeBolt.

“Innovation for companies has always worked here.”

HB 1211, with 28 Democratic sponsors, was filed at the request of Gov. Jay Inslee, whose proposed biennium budget prioritizes a transition to clean energy.

The bill phases out coal by 2025 and requires all electricity to be greenhouse gas neutral by 2030.

If an electric utility company isn’t generating all of its electricity using non-emitting energy resources in 2045, the company would face penalties.

Under this bill, hydroelectricity is not included as a non-emitting resource.

According to Tarleton, the bill would ensure that the penalties are incurred by the company and not by ratepayers through raised energy prices.

If the company has made a “good faith” effort to transition, the penalties can be reduced.

Companies also can receive credit for investing in another sector to offset their emissions in the energy sector.

“Mine is setting in a schedule that you have to achieve, and if you are not able to achieve it by that date there are alternatives,” said Tarleton.

House Bill 1226, sponsored by Debolt and state Rep. Drew Stokesbary, R-Auburn, would require utility companies to use clean energy to meet new customer needs starting in 2029, rather than imposing a complete transition.

The bill provides tax exemptions for reducing carbon emissions in buildings and gas transportation, allows utilities to use hydroelectricity as a clean energy resource, and allows the use of power purchased from Bonneville Power Administration. Both bills allow for the use of nuclear power.

Neither house bill has an executive session scheduled yet. HB 1211’s companion bill, Senate Bill 5116, has an executive session in the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee today, and state senators will decide whether to pass SB 5611 through committee.


This story is part of a series of news reports from the Washington State Legislature provided through a reporting internship sponsored by the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation.