Friday, April 29, 2011

Washington’s clean energy future began today

In front of hundreds of people including representatives from the business, labor, and environmental communities, as well as legislators from both sides of the aisle and local elected officials, Governor Gregoire put her signature on Senate Bill 5769, setting a timetable to transition our state away from coal.

There was no better place to take this historic action than at the Trans Alta power plant in Centralia, with the company's CEO and employees present. In fact, Trans Alta President & CEO Steve Snyder declared it was the beginning of "…a new energy future."

Senate Bill 5769, sponsored by state Sen. Phil Rockefeller and shepherded through the House by Environment Committee Chairman Rep. Dave Upthegrove, is the culmination of several years of hard work to find a win/win solution that benefits both family-wage jobs and the environment. In remarks before the bill signing, Sen. Rockefeller said, "I've never seen such collaborative work evolve in this fashion."

Making a special guest appearance at the bill signing was House Speaker Frank Chopp, who came to show his support for the bipartisan measure. It was Speaker Chopp who put the idea for the bill on the table several years ago, and whose behind-the-scenes support helped it pass its final hurdles in the House.

The bill will make the plant in Centralia one of the cleanest coal-fired plants in the nation within just two years. By 2025, it will have transitioned away from coal, and toward new, cleaner energy technology. The timetable allows for both the necessary time and resources for an orderly shift to a greener future, and gives the local community greater economic certainty during this shift.

(Photo: Governor Gregoire with House Speaker Frank Chopp and Thurston-Lewis-Mason Labor Council president Bob Guenther after signing SB 5769 in Centralia today - courtesy Washington State Senate)

To read this blog post in Spanish, go here.