Gov. Chris Gregoire, joined by TransAlta executives, legislators, and members of the environmental and labor communities, signed legislation to phase out coal-fired energy production at the TransAlta power plant in Centralia. Senate Bill 5769 solidifies into law a collaborative agreement to close the state's two coal boilers – the first in 2020 and the second in 2025. The agreement provides a path to cleaner power while allowing the necessary time to provide stability to the electrical grid and to the community in Lewis County.
"The Centralia power plant has long been a critical part of the regional economy," Gregoire said at the bill signing ceremony at the Centralia plant, attended by TransAlta employees. "The men and women here who keep it running not only power homes and businesses, you serve as the backbone of your communities. We will build on your skills and your know-how to power our grid and our future. I want to thank our partners at TransAlta, our environmental community, and labor for coming together to be part of Washington's clean energy future. I'd also like to thank our legislators, who gave this bill bipartisan support."
In 2009, Gregoire signed an executive order directing the Department of Ecology to work with TransAlta on an agreement that would apply the greenhouse gas emissions performance standards by no later than December 31, 2025. The law established today culminates two years of negotiations that produced an agreement between the company, the environmental community and the state.
"TransAlta is a progressive power company that strives to produce more electricity with less environmental impact, every day," said TransAlta President and CEO Steve Snyder. "We are proud to play a leading role in this unique collaboration of industry, government, community and environmentalists to chart a new energy future for Washington State. With this bill, TransAlta will be able to continue powering this community with new investments in power production and new jobs."
Under the legislation:
• The plant's two coal boilers will meet the state's emissions performance standard for new and modified power plants, which will require the boilers to shut down. The standard will apply to one boiler on Dec. 31, 2020, and to the other boiler on Dec. 31, 2025 – essentially ending coal-fired power in Washington state in the next 14 years;
• In 2013, TransAlta will install additional air pollution control technology to further reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides at the plant. The TransAlta plant is the state's largest single industrial source of nitrogen oxide emissions. Nitrogen oxides are one of the causes of visibility-limiting regional haze in national parks and on federal lands;
• TransAlta agrees to contribute $30 million in a community investment fund to help with economic development and energy efficiency projects, as well as $25 million in an energy technology transition fund, to be spent on supporting innovative energy technologies and companies in Washington state; and
• TransAlta will be allowed in the interim to sell coal power under long-term contracts within Washington – which will give the company the financial stability needed to transition to a cleaner source of energy.
Governor signs bill phasing out last of coal-fired power in Washington