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Washington voters to decide on natural gas policy as Initiative 2066 heads to November ballot

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On the November ballot, Washington State is expected to have a major initiative aimed at ensuring the usage of natural gas in the future

Seattle, Washington – On the November ballot, Washington State is expected to have a major initiative aimed at ensuring the usage of natural gas among continuous discussions on energy policy. Dubbed Initiative 2066, the measure has attracted notable public interest and support shown by the large number of signatures gathered to qualify it for the next general election.

Let’s Go Washington, the advocacy group behind this initiative, said they had gathered 431,063 signatures, more than the minimal 325,000 signatures needed to guarantee a ballot placement. The Secretary of State’s office is now tasked with validating these signatures to confirm the initiative’s placement on the November ballot.

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Should the initiative be approved by enough voters, it would demand further requirements on counties and towns all throughout Washington to guarantee an uninterrupted supply of natural gas for businesses and citizens. Furthermore, Initiative 2066 suggests to reverse some parts of House Bill 1589, law passed by the state assembly last March. This legislation has been divisive since it requires big utility companies like Puget Sound Energy (PSE) to mix their natural gas and electric utility consumers into a single rate plan by 2027. PSE also has to assess and document the viability of reasonably priced electrification solutions.

Opponents of HB 1589, notably Republican Representative Peter Abbarno, contend that although the measure does not specifically forbid natural gas, it creates a foundation that would cause a slow phase-off, therefore possibly affecting about a million PSE consumers. Emphasizing the larger consequences for energy choice and regional economic implications, Abbarno’s legislative review in Woodland late in May brought attention to this issue.

On the November ballot, Washington State is expected to have a major initiative aimed at ensuring the usage of natural gas in the future

Credit: Deposit Photos

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PSE denied assertions, meanwhile, that HB 1589 will cause a ban or drop in natural gas consumption or raise utility costs. In a March news statement, the business explained that the bill only asks them to create a plan showing the expenses related to possible electrification, which would subsequently be included into the integrated system plan sent to authorities in 2027.

Adding to the conversation, a Clark Public Utilities spokesman commented last week that this project would not change the situation with utility providers not currently transporting natural gas. For those like Clark County who do import natural gas, the program requires ongoing provision mostly via NW Natural based in Portland.

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Balancing environmental issues with energy independence and economic implications, the initiative keeps a key conversation on the future of energy resources in Washington as it gets ready for a vote.

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