Gov. Gregoire Signs Legislation to Transition Washington off of Coal Power

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire signed legislation to phase out coal-fired energy production at the TransAlta power plant in Centralia, Wash. Senate Bill 5769 solidifies into law a collaborative agreement to close the state’s two coal boilers. 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.”

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 Dec. 31, 2025. The new law culminates two years of negotiations that produced an agreement between the company, the environmental community and the state.

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, which are one of the causes of visibility--limiting regional haze.

TransAlta agreed 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. In addition, 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.

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