State agencies reach major benchmark in Washington’s transition to clean energy
UTC and Commerce collaborate to adopt new rules for electric utilities related to energy storage systems, standards and more
LACEY, Wash. – The Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) and Washington State Department of Commerce recently adopted new rules for electric utilities, reaching a major milestone in Washington’s transition to clean energy.
The rules provide guidance on several key requirements in the Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA) of 2019, which requires electric utilities to source 100% of their electricity from renewable or non-carbon-emitting sources by 2045. These rules will help ensure that utilities meet intermediate targets of eliminating coal-fired generation by 2025 and transition to a greenhouse gas-neutral supply of electricity by 2030.
Included in the rules are initial standards to ensure that utilities comply with CETA’s clean electricity requirements when they buy and trade power in wholesale electricity markets.
Another new rule clarifies that utilities may use energy storage systems, such as batteries and pumped hydro storage plants, to manage renewable energy supply and demand.
The rules also contain protections to make sure that companies do not double-count renewable energy used to comply with the clean electricity standard, making sure that customers are getting clean energy as required by law, and other companies who buy and sell power are not counting the same clean energy toward requirements in another state.
“Governor Inslee and the Legislature enacted a landmark clean electricity law in passing CETA. An abundant supply of clean electricity is the foundation of Washington’s strategy to eliminate fossil fuel pollution, meet the challenges of climate change and ensure a thriving clean energy economy. These rules will help make sure that the goals of CETA are achieved by our electric utilities,” said Department of Commerce Director Lisa Brown.
“These rules are an important step toward ensuring that electric utilities are working actively toward a clean, reliable, and sustainable energy future for Washington,” said UTC Chair David Danner. “The work isn’t over, but I am confident that by working with our utilities, state government partners, and the public we are well on our way to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045.”
Since the passage of CETA in 2019, the UTC and Commerce have been working together to make sure that guidance for all electric utilities in the state is based on a consistent interpretation of CETA while tailoring the individual rules to the authority of both agencies and the needs of the utilities they regulate.
The UTC rules apply to the investor-owned electric utilities operating in Washington: Puget Sound Energy, Avista, and PacifiCorp. The Department of Commerce rules apply to approximately 60 consumer-owned utilities – municipal utilities, public utility districts, and rural electric cooperatives – that serve customers in Washington.
CETA requires that, starting in 2030, utilities use clean electricity sources in an amount equal to 100% of their customers’ purchases. The Commerce rules clarify how utilities may count power purchases and sales under this requirement. The UTC is still developing its rules regarding this requirement and expects final rules early next year.
The UTC and Commerce previously worked together to complete a first phase of CETA-related rulemakings, finalized in December 2020.
Additional information on the UTC’s CETA rules and implementation is posted on the UTC’s CETA webpage: www.utc.wa.gov/CETA.
Commerce’s rules and more information are posted on the agency’s CETA webpage: commerce.wa.gov/CETA.