Have you noticed all the giant windmills dotting the landscapes throughout rural areas of Washington? Does it feel like these, and other clean energy facilities, are starting to encroach on your land and disrupt your viewsheds? You are not alone. That’s why I introduced House Bill 1871 this legislative session.
This bill received a public hearing and a lot of attention and interest from the public and media. It did not make it out of committee, but much of the legislation was later added as an amendment to House Bill 1812, which has been passed out of the House. On the topic of media coverage, there has been a lot said about this legislation. Some of it has been accurate, while some of it has completely missed the mark. So, I want to clear the air about House Bill 1871.
Here is what this legislation would do. It would help create equity between Washington counties producing clean energy and the counties consuming that energy. Here’s how: The bill would pave the way for a complete review of the current clean energy facility siting process.
When I introduced this bill, my intent was not to prevent future clean energy sites from going up in rural counties. To be clear, I am not calling for giant wind farms to be constructed in the Puget Sound area, and the bill does not call for this to happen. I have never claimed the current siting process is discriminatory. However, we do need to take a closer look at how these sites are determined and their effects on those who live nearby.
What the bill would do, and what I am calling for, is a full, in-depth review of the current siting process. We need to rethink how these locations are determined throughout the state, and not just assume there is endless open rural land in Washington for an innumerable amount of clean energy facilities.
This legislation would establish a short-term moratorium on the siting of alternative energy facilities. In other words, we would put a hold on new alternative energy facilities and take the process back to the drawing board. Starting with a clean slate would allow for a new legislative task force to take a completely fresh look at the process for siting clean energy facilities in the state.
During this brief moratorium, this task force would investigate possible solutions to the current inequity between clean energy producing counties and clean energy consuming counties. It would also look at ways to compensate the counties who are producing clean energy compared to the counties consuming it. The goal of the task force would be to look at the issue from every angle and suggest the best solutions.
Developing a solid strategy to create a quality, clean and transmittable energy grid for both the short- and long-term is essential for all Washingtonians, and everyone should benefit equally from these clean energy sources.
I’m very aware that the same land and weather resources that exist in rural parts of Washington do not exist in the Puget Sound area. However, it’s vital we explore every possible avenue as we continue to pursue locations for alternative energy sites in Washington. We owe it to our state and to everyone who calls Washington home.
Rep. Mark Klicker, R-Walla Walla represents Washington’s 16th Legislative District.
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