Legislation to encourage renewable energy use and rural development becomes law

May 16th, 2017|

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee today signed legislation encouraging the production of renewable energy at older, fire-generated biomass facilities.

Senate Bill 5128, sponsored by Sen. Dean Takko, D-Longview, will allow qualified mills to sell excess power generated by the burning of biomass, such as the fiber remains from timber or pulp, to local public utilities districts. The new law will help older facilities lower power costs by using renewable energy sources.

“When businesses make the effort to invest in renewable energy, we ought to find ways to meet them halfway and make it easier to operate at lower costs,” Takko said. “Allowing paper mills like Longview’s KapStone, which employs 1,100 people, to sell off excess power will help keep jobs in our rural communities.”

The law also creates a provision that power generated by biomass and purchased by local utilities districts qualify as renewable energy, ensuring compliance with Washington’s Energy Independence Act. Expanding the act to include biomass as eligible renewable energy in this way will encourage other facilities to make capital investments to retrofit older facilities.

“Thank you to the advocates, my colleagues in the Legislature and the governor for making this bill, years in the works, a reality,” said Takko.

SB 5128 passed unanimously from the Senate and on a 91-7 vote in the House of Representatives.