Builders, hospitality industry voice opposition to PSE’s natural gas ban
March 16, 2023
OLYMPIA…A bill moving through Washington’s Legislature could have dramatic effects on future home building and new restaurants, not to mention monthly energy bills.
House Bill 1589 would ban Puget Sound Energy from running new natural gas lines to new residential and commercial construction in its service area effective June 30, 2023. It also requires the utility to stop providing natural gas service to existing customers by 2050.
Despite broad and strong opposition from a number of constituencies, including residential construction and hospitality, the House of Representatives approved it, 52-44. The Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee has scheduled a hearing on the measure for 8 a.m. on Friday, March 17.
Natural gas ban eliminates choice
“Natural gas delivers low-cost warmth and comfort to more than three million people in Washington,” said Building Industry Association of Washington Executive Vice President Greg Lane. “According to a recent survey, roughly 72 % of people believe families and businesses should have choice when it comes to the energy options they need. Right now, natural gas monthly utility bills are 33 % less expensive than electrical utility bills. Should this measure pass, PSE ratepayers will be forced to pay significantly higher energy bills as the utility recoups its costs.”
BIAW has already filed a lawsuit challenging costly restrictions on the use of natural gas in new homes, adopted as part of the state’s new energy code. Unlike this bill, the code does not completely ban the use of natural gas in new homes and businesses. However, the cost to homeowners and businesses to have natural gas for cooking or as a back-up for heating would increase dramatically.
“Natural gas supports the energy needs of 200,000 businesses and institutions in Washington,” Lane said. “Eliminating this clean source of energy for current and future customers is short-sighted.”
Step toward a statewide natural gas ban
The Washington Hospitality Association has also joined the coalition opposing this measure.
“We’re particularly concerned about the impacts to small businesses that require a flame offered by natural gas to prepare cultural and traditional foods — including, for example, asado style cooking, wok style cooking, and Korean table-top BBQ,” said Washington Hospitality Association President and CEO Anthony Anton. “Ultimately, we are concerned that this is the first step toward a statewide ban on natural gas.”
The Building Industry Association of Washington is the voice of the housing industry. The state’s largest trade association with nearly 8,000 member companies, BIAW promotes and protects the vitality of the building industry so more Washington families can enjoy the American Dream of owning a home. Learn more at: www.biaw.com
The Washington Hospitality Association is the state’s leading hospitality trade group, representing more than 6,000 members of the hotel, restaurant and hospitality industry. The Washington Restaurant Association (established 1929) and the Washington Lodging Association (established 1920) joined forces in 2016 to create the Washington Hospitality Association that supports and advocates for restaurateurs, hoteliers and related hospitality industry professionals in the state capitol and communities statewide.