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The Impact – Clean Energy and the Power Grid (Part 1)

Mike McClanahan profile by Mike McClanahan

Washington’s future is electric. There is a mandate in Washington to end the sale of new gas or diesel vehicles by 2035. There are electric heat pump requirements for new homes. And state utilities are expected to be carbon neutral with offsets by 2030 and 100% clean by 2045. We’re going to need more electricity and more infrastructure to carry it around the state. 

Some of the challenges facing state leaders during the energy transition center on the length of time it takes to upgrade or build out high voltage transmission and the tradeoffs involved with adding them.

Siting clean energy projects can be controversial, when state goals or developer interests clash with local priorities. Local residents may also be divided on the issue.

State officials have approved a suite of clean energy laws and policies in recent years. The governor just signed several more. That list includes Senate Bill 5165, which requires utilities to plan for future electricity transmission needs out to 20 years instead of in 10-year increments. It also requires them to keep new connections to incoming clean energy projects in mind.

This week we spoke with the sponsor of that bill, Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee Chair, Sen. Joe Nguyen (D-White Center) as well as co-sponsor Sen. Matt Boehnke (R- Kennewick).

“The technology is advancing in terms of battery storage and everything else as well, so being able to leverage that as quickly as possible is going to be key for us to be successful,” said Nguyen.

“The local voices of the people and the concerns that they have need to be addressed,” said Boehnke.