The Douglas County Public Utility District and other PUDs in Washington could soon have the authority to produce and sell a new type of clean energy under a Senate-approved bill introduced by 12th District state Sen. Brad Hawkins.
Substitute Senate Bill 5588 would authorize PUDs to produce, distribute and sell renewable hydrogen. The Senate voted 47-0 today to approve it. The proposal now advances to the House of Representatives for consideration and is among the first Senate bills available for House consideration this session.
“Our PUDs have been leaders in clean energy for decades, and this bill would allow them to continue to lead with another form of clean energy,” said Hawkins. “Renewable hydrogen can be used as a transportation fuel as well as for other purposes.” Hawkins noted that Toyota is among numerous stakeholders interested in the bill.
Douglas PUD, which asked Hawkins to sponsor the bill, plans to use electrolysis to separate hydrogen molecules from oxygen molecules in water to produce renewable hydrogen. Renewable hydrogen does not produce carbon emissions when it is produced or consumed.
Officials with Douglas PUD and the Washington Public Utility Districts Association testified in favor of the bill during its public hearing in the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee Feb. 6.
“Our hydro utilities have experienced difficulties in the springtime when flows are high on the Columbia River and when wind generation is significant throughout the Pacific Northwest,” said Hawkins. “Spilling excess water over our dams can adversely impact fish, and selling power below cost can impact us economically because we are the owners of the dams. Douglas PUD hopes to create hydrogen from its surplus electricity and then sell it. This bill would help make that possible.”
The bipartisan bill has 32 co-sponsors, including 16 Democrats and 16 Republicans.
“I’m honored to have such strong bipartisan support behind this proposal,” said Hawkins. “I hope the House gives it the same strong approval that the Senate did today.”