My bill to assist power capacity in central WA will become law

Members of the Washington State Senate voted unanimously Monday in favor of my bill which would – among other things – allow investors to construct water-pump storage facilities along the Columbia River to generate electricity and help balance out the power generated by area wind farms. I’m pleased to see Senate Bill 6044 pass with so much support.

In order for investors to begin their multi-billion dollar projects, we first have to update 80-year-old restrictions in state law. My bill takes care of that by removing provisions that have outlived their usefulness. Once the project gets going, it’ll mean more jobs and potentially more power for central Washington.

SB 6044 would allow a public utility district bordered by the Columbia River to supply water as authorized by a water right under its control, to be used in a pump storage generating facility. Additionally, it would require contracts concerning the sale of these resources to be approved by a vote of a PUD’s commissioners after a minimum of ten days public notice.

The 1000- to 1200-megawatt project would not only balance out the region’s wind power, but could also be used to absorb excess electricity produced during high-wind events. Additionally, pump storage could be good for supplementing river flows to assist in fish migration, so it’s really a win-win for everyone.

In the House of Representatives, the bill was amended to limits the effect of the legislation to PUDs that have previously obtained a water right from an industrial user and are not currently using the water for its original purpose. It now goes to the governor to be signed into law.