House passes natural gas ban, despite strained energy grid
January 23, 2024
Despite pleas asking customers to turn down their thermostats to reduce strain on the energy grid during the state’s frigid cold snap earlier this month, Washington moved another step closer to banning natural gas today.
In a 52-44-2 vote, Washington’s House of Representatives passed House Bill 1589. Among other things, the bill:
- Prohibits Puget Sound Energy (PSE) from providing natural gas service to new customers after June 2023; and
- Removes the requirement that PSE continue serving natural gas to existing customers.
“In voting for this bill, legislators are showing just how out of touch they are with the reality facing homeowners,” said Greg Lane, Executive Vice President of the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW). “Not even two weeks have passed since thousands of Washington families fought bitter cold winter weather causing PSE to ask them to curb their energy use to reduce strain on the grid.
“Removing natural gas as a source of heating homes and water will cause our electrical grid to fail,” Lane said. “We will continue to fight efforts to threaten Washington’s energy security.”
The measure now moves to the Senate where it died last session. BIAW will continue to work with legislators to encourage a similar fate this year.
Natural gas ban legal fight
In February 2023, BIAW and a coalition of trade associations, union representatives, businesses and homeowners filed a lawsuit in Thurston County Superior Court. This challenge alleges the State Building Code Council (SBCC) violated rulemaking laws in approving energy codes restricting natural gas and propane in new residential and commercial construction.
Facing a federal legal challenge as well, the council voted to delay the codes’ implementation date to March 15, 2024.
“The SBCC’s decision to pass building codes effectively banning natural gas for heating and water isn’t just illegal. It’s bad public policy and it’s bad for Washington families,” Tagoai said. “We’re fighting for the rights of both home builders and homeowners. Everyone deserves the right to have choices in the energy sources people use for cooking and heating their homes.”
BIAW expects to file new briefs in the Thurston County Superior Court case this week.
The Building Industry Association of Washington is the voice of the housing industry and the state’s largest trade association. With nearly 8,000 member companies, BIAW works to promote and protect the building industry so more Washington families can enjoy the American Dream of homeownership. Learn more at: www.biaw.com