March 5, 2019 Read More →

Washington legislators push plan to force state’s utilities to be carbon-neutral by 2030

S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):

The Washington Senate passed a bill to require utilities to stop using coal-generated power by the end of 2025 and make all retail sales of electricity greenhouse gas-neutral by 2030.

The bill would impact Puget Sound Energy Inc., the state’s largest utility, as well as Avista Corp. and Berkshire Hathaway Energy subsidiary PacifiCorp. The bill would only impact out-of-state coal-fired power plants, such as Colstrip in Montana, because all three utility companies have ownership interests in the plant.

Washington has only one coal-fired plant in the state, TransAlta Corp.’s 1,376-MW Centralia plant in Lewis County, which is due to be retired by 2025, the same year as the deadline set in the bill. Centralia is already subject to a state law passed in 2011 that required the plant to close. A portion of the plant’s output is sold under contract to Puget Sound Energy, or PSE.

Senate Bill 5116, sponsored by Sen. Reuven Carlyle, a Democrat, passed on a 28-19 party line vote March 1, the same day Gov. Jay Inslee announced he is running for U.S. president on a platform to address climate change. Inslee sought the legislation in his State of the State speech in December 2018, when he called for a carbon-free electric grid by 2045.

The Colstrip plant is operated by Talen Generation LLC. PSE owns the largest single share, with a 50% ownership interest in units 1 and 2 and a 25% interest in units 3 and 4. Avista owns a 15% interest in units 3 and 4, and PacifiCorp owns a 10% interest in units 3 and 4.

PSE settled with the Sierra Club in July 2016 to retire units 1 and 2, the older and smaller of the units, dating from the mid-1970s, by July 1, 2022, according to the utility’s Form 10-K filing. Also, PSE will accelerate depreciation of units 3 and 4 to conclude at the end of 2027 under terms of a rate case settlement. This bill would require the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission to accelerate depreciation for any coal-fired resource owned by an investor-owned utility to no later than the end of 2025.

More ($): Wash. Senate passes bill to stop utilities from using coal plants


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