Seattle, WA -- Labor and business leaders are praising the Washington state Legislature and Gov. Jay Inslee for the passage of Senate Bill 5297, which was signed into law by Inslee last week, and becomes effective this July. The bill gives Washington utilities incentives to buy coal-generated power from TransAlta’s Centralia plant, allowing coal-generated power to count toward the renewable energy goals.
The bill makes the incentives positive by amending voter-approved I-937, the 2006 measure requiring utilities to generate 15 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020. The Centralia plant is scheduled to be phased out by 2025, and the bill is a good-faith measure to ease that transition and protect jobs at the plant.
The bill received bipartisan support, having been sponsored by Republican Sens. John Braun (R-20, Centralia) and Doug Ericksen (R-42, Ferndale), and receiving supportive votes from such environmental leaders as Reps. Gerry Pollet (D-46, N. Seattle), Reuven Carlyle (D-36, Queen Anne) and Dave Upthegrove (D-33, Des Moines). It was signed by Gov. Inslee on May 7.
“When labor, business, and elected officials work together, we can accomplish great goals for working families in this state, balancing job creation with a focus on environmental responsibility,” said Herb Krohn, Washington state legislative director for the United Transportation Union.
“We hope to see this process repeated in other decisions facing the state,” said Don Brunell, President of the Association of Washington Business, Washington’s state Chamber of Commerce. “We hope this is the start of a new way of doing business.”
The Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports, a non-profit advocacy organization representing the benefits of proposed bulk export terminals in the region, also praised the decision. The proposed bulk export terminals would ship coal to markets overseas, as well as other bulk products such as grain.