The Washington State Legislature concluded its 2014 60-day session on time but with little activity associated with energy issues. Notably, the first successful amendment to I-937 not only passed both houses, but did so with unanimous votes. HB 1643 provided for two changes to the state’s clean energy mandate. First, both the Department of Commerce and the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission were given leeway to write new administrative rules whenever an update occurs to the Northwest’s Power Plan (7th Power Plan coming next year). In addition, changes in the law will allow utilities who acquire more than their biennial conservation targets to use that “excess conservation” as rollover (think old cell phone plans) to meet requirements in up to two successive biennia. There is a cap on how much rollover is allowed. To read these changes in specificity, check out the final bill language here.
The legislature did not pass a capital budget bill in this session (in effect leaving the 2013 capital budget unchanged). Notably, this put an innovative new state building project – the so-called 1063 Building – in a state of limbo. Originally capitalized in the 2013 budget, this project was designed to use a design-build approach with an emphasis on high performance energy outcomes. Due to higher than expected financing costs, the project was put into some uncertainty as to the adequacy of the state’s financial commitment. The House and Senate did not agree on a solution. Next steps in moving the 1063 project forward are unknown at this time.