A new bill in the Washington state House weighs into the state’s carbon-neutral future by insisting nuclear power be a big part of the solution.
The stated intent of HB 1584 is “Planning for advanced nuclear reactor technology in Washington.” If enacted, the bill would require Washington’s future energy plans to “include consideration of measures that will promote the development of advanced nuclear reactor technology in Washington.”
“I’m excited my bill helps expand this important energy resource,” co-sponsor Rep. Stephanie Barnard, R-Pasco, said in a statement. “Advanced nuclear reactor technology is price competitive with other renewables. Because it’s reliable and can be used on a large scale, nuclear energy can reduce our dependence on carbon-producing energy supplies.”
Barnard sits in the minority on the state House Environment and Energy Committee, where the bill is pending. She argues that the state’s Clean Energy Transformation Act, or CETA, goal that Washington will have nothing but clean energy in 2045 won’t happen without expanding many “clean” alternatives, including nuclear power.
The Washington governor’s office weighs in on pending legislation only sporadically. In this case, it did not support or oppose pending nuclear bills but rather helped the Legislature to weigh their merits.
“I checked with our energy folks and there’s a similar Senate proposal – SB 5129 – that Commerce testified on,” said Jaime Smith, Gov. Jay Inslee’s head of communications, in an email to The Center Square. “They didn’t oppose it but noted the bill tells us to do something we already do, which is consider advanced nuclear technology in developing the state energy strategy.”
She added, “We don’t know currently whether nuclear will be the best solution in 2045, but we plan to revisit all commercially-available technologies, including nuclear, when we update the State Energy Strategy in 2028.”
On the downside, Smith said, “One thing HB 1584 omits is the acknowledgement that we need a long-term solution for spent nuclear fuel.” She also reminded that CETA, which Inslee signed in 2019 and still supports, “allows nuclear as a clean source of electricity.”
The House Environment and Energy Committee will hold a public hearing on the bill Feb. 7.