RCW 19.405.120 (Sec. 120)

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RCW 19.405.120 (Sec. 120) states that it is the intent of the Washington State Legislature to demonstrate progress toward making energy assistance funds available to low-income households. It requires utilities to make programs and funding available for energy assistance to low-income households. Each utility must demonstrate progress in providing energy assistance pursuant to assessments and plans developed under the statute.

Commerce is required under Sec. 120 to submit a biennial report to the Legislature that includes:

  • A statewide summary of energy assistance programs, energy burden, and energy assistance need
  • An identification and quantification of current expenditures on low-income energy assistance
  • An evaluation the effectiveness of additional optimal mechanisms for energy assistance including, customer rates, a low-income specific discount, system benefits charges, and public and private funds
  • An assessment of mechanisms to prioritize energy assistance towards low-income households with a higher energy burden

Commerce published its first biennial energy assistance report in 2023. The report and supporting materials are available below: 

Sec. 120 Reporting Template

Due April 1, 2024

Commerce has published its final Sec. 120 reporting template for 2022 and 2023 program years. The report must be completed in its entirety by April 1, 2024. Consistent with past process, the reporting template was developed with input from an advisory group of utility program staff and low-income advocates. Commerce held a workshop with small utilities and a public workshop and comment period on the reporting template.

 A policy memo with a comment summary, reporting template guidance, and the reporting template are available at the link below: 

Statewide Program Design Study

The Washington 2023 Operating Budget requires Commerce submit a report to the Legislature with recommendations on a design for a statewide energy assistance program to address the energy burden and provide access to energy assistance for low-income households. The agency must consider the following, when making recommendations: 

  • Data collection on energy burden and assistance need
  • Universal intake coordination and data sharing across statewide programs for low-income households
  • Program eligibility, enrollment, and administration
  • Outreach and community engagement
  • Multicultural services
  • Funding 
  • Reporting

Commerce will be convening regular public workshops and comment deadlines into May of 2024. Meeting information and materials will be updated on this webpage. 

Upcoming events

Workshop #8 comment deadline

Due: Fri, May 17

Commerce is seeking input on its statewide monthly energy bill assistance program. Draft report materials and a comment upload form are available below. General comments are always welcome too. 

Final workshop

Thu, May 30, 1- 4 pm

Commerce will be hosting a workshop on its statewide monthly energy bill assistance program design study. Meeting materials will be posted ahead of the workshop. 

Virtual
  • Zoom (link)
  • Meeting ID: 841 2000 4182
  • Passcode: Assistance

Dial-in

Final workshop comment deadline

Fri, June 14

Commerce will be seeking input on its statewide monthly energy bill assistance program design study. A draft report and a comment upload form will be available before the start of the comment period. 

Past events

Comment Deadline

Workshop #8

Thu, May 2

Commerce hosted a workshop on its ongoing study of a statewide monthly energy bill assistance program design. A recording of the workshop and meeting materials are posted below. 

 
Fri, April 12

Commerce will be seeking input on its statewide monthly energy bill assistance program. Comment period questions and comment upload information is available at the link below:

Workshop #7

Thu, March 28

Commerce will hosted a workshop on its statewide monthly energy bill assistance program design study. The workshop focused on a straw proposal for program interactions with utilities. 

Meeting materials

Draft report outline comment deadline

Fri, Feb 9, 2024

Commerce is seeking input on the draft report outline for its statewide monthly energy bill assistance program by Friday, Feb. 9. The draft report outline and the comment upload form are available below.

Social Service Providers for Low-Income Household Workshop Series Summary and Draft Report Outline Workshop

Fri, Jan 26
 
Commerce convened a workshop to review progress on its study of a monthly residential energy bill assistance program and present a draft report outline for public input. A public comment period on the draft report outline will followed the workshop.
Meeting materials

2023 workshops and comments

Utility Heat Shutoff Moratorium Reporting Template

Due March 29, 2024

In 2023, the Washington Legislature passed HB 1329 (Chapter 105, Laws 2023). The law prevents utility shutoffs for nonpayment during extreme heat. Commerce has issued its extreme heat utility shutoff moratorium reporting form for the 2023 reporting year. The following entities are required to submit the reporting template on Smartsheet by March 29, 2024. These entities include:

  • Consumer-owned electric utilities with more than 25,000 customers
  • Water utilities with more than 2,500 customers
  • Irrigation districts with more than 25,000 electric customers or 2,500 water customers

Chapter 105, Laws of 2023 gives Commerce the authority to require consumer-owned electric utilities with fewer than 25,000 residential customers and water utilities with fewer than 2,500 residential customers to report to Commerce under the law. Irrigation districts with fewer than 25,000 residential electric customers or 2,500 residential water customers may also be required to report to Commerce. Commerce is not requiring these utilities and districts to report for the 2023 reporting years, but also intends to require small utilities and irrigation districts to report under the law in the 2024 reporting year and subsequent years.

Detailed reporting instructions are included in the reporting template.

If you have questions, please contact austin.scharff@commerce.wa.gov and aaron.tam@commerce.wa.gov.

Materials

Climate Commitment Act Logo

The Statewide Energy Assistance Program Design Study is supported with funding from Washington’s Climate Commitment Act. The CCA supports Washington’s climate action efforts by putting cap-and-invest dollars to work reducing climate pollution, creating jobs, and improving public health. Information about the CCA is available at www.climate.wa.gov.

CETA Links

Laws and Regulations

Contact

Austin Scharff
Senior Energy Policy Specialist

Email: CETA@Commerce.wa.gov
Phone: 360-764-9632

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