Rep. Klicker introduces bill for equity in siting for alternative energy facilities

Rep. Mark Klicker has introduced a bill that would help create equity between Washington counties producing clean energy and the counties consuming that energy.

As Washington state continues to press for decarbonization, clean energy is at the forefront of replacing fossil fuels as an energy source. Numerous counties throughout the state produce large amounts of non-emitting clean energy via wind, solar, and hydroelectric resources.

However, according to Klicker, R-Walla Walla, and assistant ranking member of the House Environment and Energy Committee, there is little equity in the siting process of the clean energy movement. “The problem is most of these counties are rural and slow growing, and don't need more energy production facilities for their own use,” Klicker said. “As the transition to clean energy continues, these counties will be asked to site more facilities and more transmission lines to serve the needs of higher energy-consuming counties, that do not site energy facilities proportionate to their own energy needs.”

House Bill 1871 would do three things to help protect rural counties and provide more equity as the push for clean energy continues to grow.

  • It would establish a short-term two-year moratorium on the siting of alternative energy facilities.
  • It would establish a legislative task force to investigate possible solutions to the current inequity between clean energy producing counties and clean energy consuming counties. The task force would also consider how that inequity might expand dramatically with the current approval process that considers each project in isolation rather than as part of a cumulative impact that will occur over decades. 
  • It would ask the legislative task force to consider the costs and benefits experienced by communities that have hosted the renewable energy required by the Energy Independent Act of 2006 (Initiative 937), to gain the benefit of any lessons that can be learned. It also directs the task force to consider the forms of economic development assistance and viewshed impairment payments that might be made to restore balance and improve community consensus about whether the clean energy transition will be beneficial for rural Washington economies.

“Developing a solid strategy to create a quality, clean, and transmittable energy grid for both the short- and long-term is essential for all Washingtonians,” said Klicker. “Very little thought has been given to what rural counties will look like in thirty years at the end of the clean energy transition.

“Citizens who live in rural areas are becoming frustrated and discouraged that their viewsheds are being disturbed and are concerned that environmental damage is occurring. They are not seeing local benefits and local jobs from the clean energy transformation. We should avoid approving facilities one at a time, without a comprehensive look at what decades of siting approvals will mean for rural counties,” added Klicker.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov