Honeyford bill could lower energy costs in eastern Washington

Wind farmPower rates in Washington could come down once Senate Bill 5400 becomes law. The measure – sponsored by Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside – deals with the costly provisions of the 2006 voter-approved Energy Independence Act, also known as Initiative 937. SB 5400 would help power companies with out-of-state customers find other renewable energy resources in order to meet yearly conservation requirements.

“This bill allows PacifiCorp, a multi-state utility that has a service territory larger than the Bonneville Power Administration, to count the wind power produced in eastern Wyoming toward its renewable standard,” Honeyford said. “Right now, the geographic boundary to be able to count renewable is right down the middle of Wyoming; this bill modifies that so SB 5400 can keep the power rates more affordable in eastern Washington and aid low-income families as well as the agricultural industry.”

Approved by voters in 2006, Initiative 937 requires electric utilities with 25,000 or more customers to meet targets for energy conservation and for using eligible renewable resources. Each qualifying utility must use a certain percentage of eligible renewable resources or acquire equivalent renewable-energy credits, or a combination of both, by certain dates.

Under I-937, eligible renewable resources include electricity generated from a resource such as wind, solar, geothermal energy, landfill and sewage gas, wave and tidal power, and certain biodiesel fuels. Until the law enacted by Honeyford’s bill takes effect, the facility must be located in the Pacific Northwest or the electricity it produces must be delivered to the state on a real-time basis.

“In addition to potentially lower power rates, allowing renewable-energy credits from outside the Pacific Northwest to qualify under the Energy Independence Act will take pressure off an already overloaded electrical-transmission grid in the northwestern United States,” Honeyford added, “and I’m pleased that it was met with such support from the House and Senate.”

SB 5400 will take effect on July 27.