Vowing to reduce her state's carbon footprint, a refrain ringing throughout the West these days, Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire last Friday signed a new climate change law (SB 6001). The new statute sets enforceable limits on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from electric generation plants, and it is expected to boost the development of natural gas-fired and renewable energy generation.

Like her counterparts in other western states, Gregoire chided the federal government for not setting national standards, saying, "This Washington [not Washington, DC] is the better Washington" for showing the way on global climate change. She said the push to rein in and eventually reverse global warming "has to start somewhere," and when one state acts, many times "others will follow."

Before adjourning April 22, the Washington state legislature passed SB 6001 codifying much of what the governor had put in place late last year in an executive order, mirroring some earlier efforts in California. The law makes Washington a state that will emphasize new wind and natural gas-powered electricity generation, along with its traditional hydroelectric supplies, according to Puget Energy CEO Stephen Reynolds, who is a member of a statewide task force established to help implement the new law (see Power Market Today, April 30).

Existing coal-fired generation, such as Puget Sound Energy's interest in the Colstrip plant in Montana, is not impacted by the new law, Reynolds told a financial analysts' conference call Friday.

Washington's new law reflected a compromise approach to climate change mitigation. The state's lower House passed the measure (SB 6001) with amendments earlier in April, and the Senate passed the amended version of the bill earlier in April. The final measure signed by Gregoire establishes restrictions on new power plants or long-term contracts for power supplies effective July 1, 2008 (see Power Market Today, April 18).

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