Washington State House Democrats


Morris bill greenlighting alternative-energy projects clears House

OLYMPIA – Legislation approved by the House this week will provide an additional path for Washington residents looking to install alternative energy projects, like solar panels or wind turbines. Rep. Jeff Morris (D – Mount Vernon) believes the proposal will not only help people developing a project, but also local governments with little resources or experience with permitting alternative-energy technology.

“Clean and alternative energy are the future of our state’s energy needs, and the state needs to continue supporting new renewable energy projects,” said Morris. “By adding in a process for projects to go through a state council for siting, we’ll ensure consistency across the state and help get more of these alternative energy projects of the ground.”

Morris’ legislation, House Bill 1081, applies only to small projects which generate 100 kw or less of electricity, and a person could only pursue this alternate siting process if a local government doesn’t have alternative energy siting policies, haven’t updated their policies in over 10 years, or if an application hasn’t been processed in six months. Local governments could also arrange in advance to have the state’s siting council review and permit their projects.

Permitting through the state would go through the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, the state’s one-stop permitting spot for major energy projects. Their experience will ensure projects sited in a community have been reviewed for environmental and safety concerns.

“Clean energy is one of the state’s only growing industries,” Morris said. “By having the state and local governments work together, we can unleash these local energy investments that would otherwise stall out in permitting.”

The bill passed with a vote of 92 to three, and has already been scheduled for a March 9 public hearing in the Senate.