Natural gas ban passes

HB 1589 reverses the concept of state utility regulation

During the last week of the 2024 legislative session, the Washington State Legislature passed House Bill 1589, a bill requested by Puget Sound Energy. This bill insulates the state’s largest monopoly utility company from paying the price for impractical state-mandated carbon reduction goals by allowing PSE to cut off gas service to its customers, forcing households to convert their homes from gas to electric.

After passing the Senate, despite an issue with unconstitutional language, it arrived in the House, where debate lasted until 2 a.m.  Despite unconstitutional language again found in the bill, it was passed in the House. It was signed into law in April.

As the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee, I believe this policy is bad for Washingtonians. Here’s why.

It reverses the concept of state utility regulation. Homeowners and businesses will bear the cost of converting from gas to electricity. The cost of electrifying a home is estimated to be between $30,700 and $74,400, depending on what needs to be replaced or upgraded.

It will also eliminate an affordable energy option for Washington residents. Currently, natural gas costs about 33% less than electricity. The increased costs would be a regressive tax on those who can least afford it. Washington is already facing a long-term shortage of affordable housing, and the policy would make it worse and increase the cost of homeownership and rentals. Energy bills will dramatically increase, and under House Bill 1589, ignoring all other cost factors – such as inflation and the effects of cap and trade – PSE predicts residential electricity rates will increase 37% by 2045, followed by residential natural gas rates increasing 151%.

Lastly, an emergency clause was also placed on this bill, preventing Washingtonians from pursuing a referendum in November, this bill is poor policy for everyone.