On September 27, Lori Mattson, President of the Tri-City Regional Chamber, kicked off the formation of a new coalition, Citizens for P.O.W.E.R. (Protecting Our Washington Energy Rates). The coalition of regional businesses, governments, and individuals has been formed to stop unnecessary utility rate increases that are the result of unintended consequences in the state Energy Independence Act.
Steve Simmons, the owner of Country Gentleman Restaurant and chair of the coalition planning committee made it clear at the press conference that there is no intent to repeal or gut the Act. The goal is to insure that local utilities, either because of conservation efforts or the economic downturn, do not have to buy energy they do not need simply to meet the renewable energy goals in the Act. This is particularly troubling in Washington State where most of the existing power comes from clean hydropower.
Tom Mackay, CFO of AgriNorthwest, emphasized that this is about family wage jobs and the price of food. It is difficult enough paying the higher cost for renewable energy, without in addition having to pay for energy credits the utilities don’t need.
Sen. Mike Hewitt and Rep. Terry Nealey both spoke and committed to pushing legislation in the 2013 Legislative Session. They were joined at the press conference by Sen. Jerome Delvin and Rep. Brad Klippert. Last year similar legislation had bi-partisan support in both houses.
The coalition intends to take their message to other regions across the state. Further information can be found on the coalition website at http://wapower.net/ .