Washington governor commits energy suicide with new plan to outlaw natural gas
04/03/2024 // Cassie B. // Views

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has signed new legislation that will effectively outlaw the use of natural gas in the state. Inslee, a Democrat, boasted that the bill would help the state reach net zero emissions by 2050 at a bill signing event. However, those opposed to the bill have been quick to point out just how bad it will be for the state's residents.

State Senator Chris Gildon, a Republican representing Puyallup, said the law would end up costing homeowners, renters and businesses billions of dollars. He explained how the bill will lay the groundwork for a natural gas ban, adding: “As the governor said during the bill-signing, it gets Puget Sound Energy out of the natural gas business. It’s going to be horrendously expensive, it’s going to be a direct hit on consumers, and it accomplishes next-to-nothing. And I am afraid it is only a matter of time before this bad idea is exported to other areas of the state."

The Washington State GOP, meanwhile, said that this bill reveals how little Governor Inslee cares about working families, posting on X: “Gov. Jay Inslee has nothing but contempt for working families as evidenced by recently signing HB 1589 (natural gas ban) that will, undoubtedly, bankrupt working families across WA.”

They added that the corporate media is also at fault here because of their failure to hold the governor accountable for his actions.

The bill passed by a very narrow margin and has been described as one the most divisive bills of the current legislative session. It failed to pass last year; the new version has been altered significantly but barely survived the state House this time around. It will see the prices of consumer gas nearly doubling, while putting other incentives in place to discourage the use of natural gas and turn off service to different communities, all in the name of meeting state emissions requirements.

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Bill could cost Washington residents around $40,000 per home

The bill is being widely criticized for hurting customers while helping Puget Sound Energy. As part of the bill, Puget Sound Energy’s 900,000 gas customers will have to replace their gas furnaces, water heaters, stoves and other equipment. It is expected to cost between $7 billion and $10 billion to make the transition to electricity, which amounts to roughly $40,000 per home.

However, this can vary depending on the house, with older homes requiring much greater expenses because of the need to upgrade electrical panels, wiring and equipment.

This will also likely have the effect of making housing less affordable, with locals rightly concerned about how much rents will rise as a result. Many businesses will face hardships, with some possibly closing because their reliance on natural gas is too great. In addition, the greater demand on the electricity grid could result in more blackouts.

The bill also dictates that state utility regulators shift their objectives from reducing costs for consumers to pursuing decarbonization. Therefore, it should come as little surprise that Puget Sound Energy estimates a 37 percent rise in electricity rates during the phaseout period, while a rise of 151 percent is expected in natural gas rates until it is no longer available.

Gildon added: “This bill gives the state’s largest utility a way to pass the cost of the climate agenda to the consumer. Elected officials are declaring no cost is too great and no benefit is too small, and they are handing the bill to the people and saying, ‘you pay it.’"

Unfortunately for the people of Washington, the bill has an emergency clause that renders it effective immediately, so they will have to start digging deeper into their pockets to cover their energy and living expenses right away.

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