Hydroelectric power legislation moves to Washington’s House

The Washington State Senate has passed a bill that would allow utility companies to designate incremental hydroelectric power as “renewable”.

Senate Bill 6058, which passed with a 28-20 vote in favor this past Thursday, would help companies comply with a 2006 policy called Initiative 937.

That policy, also known as the Energy Independence Act, requires utilities with at least 25,000 customers to purchase at least 3% of its power from eligible renewable resources. That percentage increases to 9% in 2016 and 15% by 2020.

Per S.B. 6058, “eligible renewable resources” includes:

  • Incremental electricity produced as a result of efficiency improvements completed after March 31, 1999, to hydroelectric generation projects owned by a qualifying utility and located in the Pacific Northwest or to hydroelectric generation in irrigation pipes and canals located in the Pacific Northwest, where the additional generation in either case does not result in new water diversions or impoundments.
  • That portion of incremental electricity produced as a result of efficiency improvements completed after March 31, 1999, attributable to a qualifying utility’s share of the electricity output to hydroelectric generation projects whose energy output is marketed by the Bonneville Power Administration where the additional generation does not result in new water diversions or impoundments.

The bill would also count wave, ocean and tidal power as “renewable”, alongside wind, solar, geothermal, landfill gas and biodiesel.

Originally sponsored by Sen. Sharon Brown, the bill is similar to an amendment filed in the Washington House by Rep. Larry Haler this past January, though that legislation — House Bill 2112 — hasn’t advanced past the House Committee on Technology & Economic Development.

S.B. 6058 is scheduled for a public hearing before the House committee later this week.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for HydroWorld.com.

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