Pointing to strained energy grid, PSE tells people to limit energy use while pushing bill to ban natural gas
January 15, 2024
Pointing to Washington’s strained energy grid, Puget Sound Energy and others urged families to limit their energy consumption during this weekend’s winter cold snap.
Despite this, the utility continues to advocate House Bill 1589 through the legislature. Among other things, the measure phases out natural gas for new and existing customers, removing a major source of energy for thousands in Washington and further stressing the state’s energy grid.
At the same time, Washington’s State Building Code Council (SBCC) continues to move ahead with new codes significantly restricting access to natural gas as well.
Strained energy grid
BIAW and others have consistently warned against removing natural gas as an option for heating homes and water. Builders point not only to consumers’ right to choose their energy source, but also to the high cost of electrification and the threat whole-home electrification poses to the grid.
“This hasty move to ban natural gas in our state through codes and legislation, as we clearly saw this past weekend, is extremely premature,” said BIAW Executive Vice President Greg Lane. “The infrastructure to handle a natural gas ban simply isn’t there. Energy companies had to ask families to limit their natural gas and electricity usage to protect the grid. This short-sighted legislation to ban natural gas would only make things worse for consumers.
“Imagine the stress to the grid without natural gas as an energy option,” Lane said. “It’s reckless and dangerous to families who rely on gas for heat, warm water and cooking when their power goes out.”
Gas ban legislation expected to pass House this week
As families deal with another week of freezing weather and forecasted snow, legislators plan to revive HB 1589 and pass it from the House floor this week.
“I can think of nothing more tone-deaf, when Washingtonians are already being asked to limit their power use, than passing legislation that would take away a popular energy source so many families rely on and dramatically increase their electricity rates,” Lane said. “The people of Washington need to let PSE and their legislators know how they feel.”
BIAW posted a call to action to let legislators know they object to natural gas bans because Washington’s energy grid can’t handle it and families need energy sources they can rely on. Text “BIAW” to 50457 to receive texts on calls to action.
New effort to overturn codes
The SBCC meets next from 10 to 4 pm on Jan. 19, 2024. Both Ty Jennings of Cascade Natural Gas and Todd Myers of the Washington Policy Center have filed petitions asking the Council to reconsider new rules restricting natural gas use.
Jennings also challenges the SBEIS, asserting the proposed rules will cost more than state law allows and that the SBEIS was incomplete and out of compliance.
The Council will take public comment and vote on the petitions at their Jan. 19 meeting.
People may attend in person at: DES Building – Room 1213, 1500 Jefferson St SE, Olympia, WA 98504.
They may also join via Zoom or phone:
- Please click the link below to join the webinar: https://des-wa.zoom.us/j/96291166817
- Dial: (888) 788-0099 (Toll-Free) Webinar ID: 962 9116 6817
Legal fight to restore energy choice continues
On the legal front, BIAW’s legal team continues its work on a state legal challenge to the new rules. Watch for new legal filings in the next week or so.
“The Building Code Council’s new rules not only violate federal law, but their adoption also violated state administrative procedures,” said BIAW General Counsel Ashli Tagoai. “This is bad policy, and it’s bad for our state. And now we’re catching a glimpse of what a future without natural gas could look like.”
In February 2023, BIAW and other trade associations, union representatives, businesses and homeowners filed a state lawsuit in Thurston County Superior Court. This challenge alleges the State Building Code Council violated state rulemaking laws when it passed new codes restricting the use of natural gas and propane in new residential and commercial construction. The case remains in Thurston County Superior Court.
Donate to the legal fund and help restore sanity to Washington’s energy policy.
For media interviews, contact BIAW Communications Director Janelle Guthrie.