Statement from Rep. Mary Dye on final passage of Puget Sound Energy natural gas bill

Following a floor debate that ended just after 2 a.m. early Wednesday in which Republicans argued utility customers in the Puget Sound region would be forced to pay exorbitant costs to convert from natural gas to electricity to decarbonize, majority House Democrats approved a Senate amendment and gave final passage to House Bill 1589. The vote was 50-45.

Rep. Mary Dye, ranking Republican on the House Environment and Energy Committee, spoke against the bill on the House floor and issued the following statement:

“I believe the amended bill is even worse than the bad bill originally sent over to the Senate by the House because it cloaks the possibility of a natural gas ban within extensive regulatory language so there is little or no clarity when it comes to what Puget Sound Energy will or will not provide to its customers. The bill would make extensive changes to the way our state’s largest utility is regulated. Instead of specifying that it’s an electric or natural gas utility, this measure would put it in the category of a large combination utility and consolidate consumers of both types of services into a single rate base. There is even less transparency in this latest version of the bill, which hides if and when natural gas would no longer be offered by PSE.

“It also instructs PSE to find a way to decarbonize itself, meaning it must provide emission-free services to its customers — or in other words, no longer provide natural gas or generate electricity from natural gas. But the bill itself does not make clear when that would happen.

“It’s most disturbing that this bill hides the future of natural gas from the public. And the transformation to electricity will be devastatingly expensive for every customer who relies on natural gas. It’s estimated that electrifying one home costs anywhere between $30-thousand and nearly $75-thousand, depending on what needs to be replaced, such as furnaces, water heaters, and wiring. Plus, it would force consumers to pay more for utilities to heat their homes, cook their food, wash their clothes, and live comfortably. Washington already has an affordability crisis. This would make it worse.

“Washington can’t afford policies like this that could force skyrocketing utility rates and people out of their homes. The Climate Commitment Act is a real disrupter to PSE, the state’s largest utility, and this bill already adds to bad policy. Except it’s worse now because it creates massive uncertainty and cloaks the real intent — to force the risk of these changes onto the ratepayers.”

The 2024 legislative session ends Thursday, March 7.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov