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Washington State News

Inslee Vetoes Electrical Grid Reliability Bill over Legislature’s Unanimous Approval

The Center Square

(The Center Square) – Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee vetoed a bill to address the “risk of rolling blackouts and power supply inadequacy events,” even though the legislation unanimously passed both chambers of the Legislature.

During this year’s legislative session, House Bill 1623, which would have examined the future stability of the state’s electric grid, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 93-0, while the Senate passed it by a vote of 49-0.

In his March 31 veto letter to the Legislature, Inslee cited redundancy for his decision.

“Ensuring that our electricity grid continues to reliably provide power to Washingtonians is a priority for me as well, which is why we have multiple state agencies already working on this issue,” Inslee wrote. “For example, the Department of Commerce and the Utilities and Transportation Commission already convene annual meetings to review resource adequacy needs. And, under the Clean Energy Transformation Act, the Department of Commerce is required to provide a report to the Legislature every four years on this issue. All of this work is in addition to the annual resource adequacy assessment conducted by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.”

The governor concluded, “For these reasons I have vetoed Substitute House Bill No. 1623 in its entirety.”

The prime sponsor of the bill, Rep. Gina Mosbrucker, R-Goldendale, was disappointed by the governor’s decision.

“I believe, and so does the Legislature, that this legislation is very much needed to ensure we are looking at the entire picture of our electrical grid, not just wind and solar,” Mosbrucker said in press release. “And that as the governor’s climate policies place more demands on electrical energy, we begin now to set plans in place to modernize our energy system for the near and long-term future to meet these demands. The entire state Legislature agreed with me, Republicans and Democrats, and passed this measure unanimously.”

A heads up from Inslee would have been nice, according to Mosbrucker.

“It’s very frustrating that despite the time and effort spent to move this bipartisan-sponsored bill through the Legislature, the governor gave no indication at any point during the process that he would veto it,” she said. “We never even received notification from the governor’s office afterward that he vetoed the bill.”

Mosbrucker said Inslee’s veto could have major repercussions on the state’s energy grid.

“I’m very concerned that without this legislation, there is no clear direction in statute to these state agencies and no focus to ensure electrical generation in our state will meet those future demands,” she said.

According to Mosbrucker’s press release, out of the 303 bills approved by the Legislature and sent to the governor, 285 were signed, a dozen were signed with partial vetoes, and six were vetoed in their entirety.