Inslee weakens energy-siting bill

By on Monday, March 28th, 2022 in Columbia Basin News More Top Stories

OLYMPIA – Rep. Mary Dye (R-Pomeroy) and Rep. Mark Klicker (R-Walla Walla) said that Gov. Jay Inslee’s veto of significant sections in a clean energy facility siting measure Friday will have devastating consequences on the future landscape of Eastern Washington communities and farmland.

House Bill 1812 establishes the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council as an independent agency separate from the Utilities and Transportation Commission. However, the governor vetoed four sections. They were provisions Dye and Klicker were able to add to the bill through an amendment that would have given rural stakeholders more input and a broader long-term picture in the siting review of wind and solar projects.

“We worked in good faith with our Democratic colleagues across the aisle through some very intense negotiations to insert this important amendment into the bill,” Dye said. “To say that we are beyond disappointed with the governor’s vetoes is an understatement.”

Dye’s Amendment 1812, that became part of the sections vetoed by Gov. Inslee, called for a study of the costs and benefits of energy projects expected to be sited in rural communities over the next 30 years, and for a legislative task force to consider the study. The concept was originally introduced as part of Klicker’s House Bill 1871. Both Klicker’s bill and the subsequent amendment arose out of concerns that Washington is being divided into clean energy producing counties and clean energy consuming counties as most of the burden of siting large-scale wind and solar farms is falling solely on a few of the less populous counties.

The bill would have also required the Washington State Department of Commerce to present a forecast where all alternative energy projects would be sited over the entire period of the clean-energy transition. The review and report would have looked at the level of monetary impact to the landscape and how that visual impact should affect payments or other forms of economic development assistance for viewshed impairment.

“This is a huge loss for people in rural Washington,” Klicker said. “It would have been great to receive a report with a forecast of what the full build-out of wind and solar facilities over the next 30 years would look like for rural counties. But the governor’s decision today means that won’t happen.”

House Bill 1812 is scheduled to take effect on June 30, 2022.