Controversial clean energy law takes effect in Washington

Controversial clean energy law takes effect in Washington

The Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility about 16 miles east of Ellensburg in central Washington is part of Puget Sound Energy’s clean energy portfolio. (Courtesy of Puget Sound Energy)

by Jerry Cornfield, Washington State Standard

Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday signed a hotly contested bill to quicken Puget Sound Energy’s transition away from natural gas, leaving in place a provision that critics argued would unfairly benefit the utility’s investors at the expense of ratepayers.

Flanked by lawmakers and labor leaders at a union hall in Kent, Inslee said House 1589 provides the state’s largest utility with a road map and tools “to get out of the fossil fuel business.”

A short time later, the investor-owned utility, which serves 800,000 customers in six counties, issued a statement lauding the “thoughtful leadership” of Inslee and lawmakers.

“This is a positive step in what will be a lengthy process of planning for the future energy choices of our electric and natural gas customers and meeting our state’s aggressive clean energy goals,” the statement read.

Under state law, PSE must generate 80% of its energy from renewable energy sources by 2030 and 100% by 2045.

The new law is intended to speed up PSE’s shift toward clean energy, setting the stage for more customers to rely on electric appliances, rather than gas ones, for heating and cooking. 

Natural gas energy use is already falling among the company’s ratepayers. It declined 7% for residential and 3% for commercial customers in 2023, according to PSE. Electricity use i

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