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State Public Hearing on Energy Coming to Richland Monday, Sept. 16

Public energy hearing coming to Richland Monday
(U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

State officials and legislators are seeking your input on energy policies in our state.

7 p.m. Monday at the Richland Public Library (955 Northgate) the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee will be seeking public comment on a controversial law.

Initiative 937 was created in 2006. It mandates that electric utilities, such as the Benton and Franklin PUD, obtain a certain percentage of their power from renewable energies such as wind or solar.

However, the bill does not consider hydroelectric power derived from dams as renewable. Officials say hearings such as these are targeting what are being called the “unintended consequences” of the bill. Many legislators and utility officials are fighting to have the bill amended to include hydroelectric power, as its core technology simply involves water passing through dams to generate power.

Part of the reason our energy rates are lower than many areas of the country is because of the abundance of such power from dams, say officials. Senator Doug Erickson, who chairs the Senate Committee, says these meetings will provide first-hand information and knowledge from those directly involved in the energy process, and allow for comments from citizens about potential raises in utility rates.

Erickson and others are concerned that over-reliance on renewable energies such as solar and wind will cause significant utility price increases, as they cannot provide anywhere near the abundance of electricity as hydro power, and even nuclear.

The Senate Committee will also spend Monday and Tuesday touring the Columbia Generating Station Nuclear Reactor at Hanford.

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