Electric Energy Generation in Washington State. Key Findings from the Association of Washington Business

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1 2014 Electric Energy Generation in Washington State Key Findings from the Association of Washington Business

2 Washington s economy is built on abundant, reliable and affordable electric energy. Although Washington relies primarily on inexpensive, zero greenhouse gas emitting hydropower, it also has significant biomass and wind resources that are potential sources of renewable energy. The state is a steward for clean energy, generating 82 percent of the state s energy from renewable energy sources (WashACE 2014 Competitiveness Redbook). The reliable and affordable electric energy available to business in the state provides an advantage in economic development efforts. An erosion of our advantage has already begun with the energy crisis and persists to this day as market and regulatory pressures contribute to rising energy costs. Washington s energy policies and mandates increase the cost of energy and fail to leverage the use of our state s abundant, renewable resources. Increased energy costs are passed on to the end users Washington s families and businesses and it is important to continue to seek policies to give energy customers choices to manage their bills, be it through energy efficiency or other customer solutions. washington state is a steward for clean energy, generating 82 percent of the state s energy from renewable energy sources. It is important to note: Washington state is a leader in inexpensive reliable energy providing the lowest industrial energy cost in the country. (WashACE 2014 Competitiveness Redbook) The Grand Coulee Dam on Washington s Columbia River is the largest hydroelectric power producer in the United States, with a total generating capacity of 6,809 megawatts. (U.S. Energy Information Administration) In 2011, Washington was the leading producer of electricity from hydroelectric sources and produced 29 percent of the nation s net hydroelectricity generation. (U.S. Energy Information Administration) Washington ranked sixth in the nation in net generation of electricity from wind energy in (U.S. Energy Information Administration) The diversified energy production portfolio of Washington state includes, natural gas, nuclear, coal, hydroelectric and other renewable energy sources, providing Washington state businesses with an abundance of inexpensive and reliable energy products and services. Because of the broad use of hydropower, wind energy, natural gas, and nuclear in the state, Washington s carbon footprint is very small. However, other factors including the regulatory and erratic tax environment and need for a better trained workforce pipeline hinder business expansion in the state. We must do more to find consistency among tax and regulatory policies and support the development of trained workers especially in highneed sectors like energy. This review of our 2013 energy industry listening tour underscores the energy advantage our state currently enjoys and must maintain to ensure its global competitiveness. Our state s diverse electric portfolio, led by low-cost, reliable hydropower and supported by a rise in wind power and thermal resources, including low carbon natural gas, is the foundation of our state s manufacturing sector. From an economic development perspective, Washington state must continue to offer abundant and inexpensive energy to attract and retain employers.

3 As the state s chamber of commerce representing more than 8,100 businesses, the Association of Washington Business works to ensure the state s business climate supports the needs of industry. Washington state s business climate, workforce training needs and business expansion are just a few of the issues AWB addresses through its advocacy work and as a representative on state-level boards and organizations. This report presents a snapshot of the impact of the state s energy portfolio to companies in today s world, while offering a glimpse into where we need to be in the future. Working together with key stakeholders, AWB seeks to ensure an abundant source of reliable, affordable power for families, schools, hospitals and businesses for many generations to come. Kristofer T. Johnson President, Association of Washington Business Overview and Key Findings In the summer of 2013, representatives from AWB and its research arm, the AWB Institute, held focus groups with purchasers and providers of energy products and services, as well as major manufacturers in Moses Lake, Spokane, the Tri-Cities, Vancouver, Seattle and Portland. The goal: to hear first-hand from Washington state providers and purchasers of energy products and services about the economic, regulatory and workforce challenges faced by the industry. Additionally, business regulation, business competitiveness and workforce training needs were discussed with each group. Washington state providers and purchasers of energy services and products identified the following issues as their top areas of concern for the industry: Washington state s regulatory environment is different between consumer-owned and investor-owned utilities, which can create challenges for some residential and commercial consumers. Tax incentives, such as the manufacturing sales and use tax incentive, are critical to support business expansion in the state. Greenhouse gas emission policies should avoid putting Washington-based businesses at a competitive disadvantage and focus on a national approach, as well as provide new initiatives and incentives for clean energy opportunities in the state. The state must support the continued research and development of emerging technology and further developing energy resources and products in Washington. Soft skills (also categorized as employability skills), along with impending retirements and an inadequately supplied workforce pipeline, must be addressed to ensure the next generation of workers is prepared to support the energy industry. Given these findings, it is crucial that the business, regulatory and workforce development environment in the state of Washington support energy generation policies that maintain the abundant, reliable and affordable energy currently enjoyed by Washington state businesses.

4 Washington s Electrical Energy Generation Policy The regulatory landscape that exists for electric generators and ratepayers has direct bearing on energy generation in Washington state. Washington is a low cost, low emission electric generation state, with more than 82 percent of the state s electric generation coming from renewable resources. Hydroelectric sources are the state s largest base load source, representing more than 70 percent of electric generation. That all changed in 2006, when Washington voters approved Initiative 937, known today as the state s Energy Independence Act or EIA. Under I-937, eligible utilities in the state must account for an additional 15 percent of their electricity supply from qualifying renewable sources by The EIA and various ancillary policies are central to the development of the state s goals with respect to the energy industry. This includes: No. 6 washington s rank in the nation in net generation of electricity from wind energy in Source: US Energy Information Administration Maintaining competitive energy prices that are fair and reasonable for consumers and businesses and support our state s continued economic success; Increasing competitiveness by fostering a clean energy economy and jobs through business and workforce development; and Meeting the state s obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (Washington State Department of Commerce)

5 At our wafer fabrication facility in Camas, we depend on reliable sources of electricity to successfully run our operations. The availability of affordable electricity and the ability to obtain the necessary permits in a timely manner are two of the biggest factors in our decision to expand or build another facility. Jim Lucey, Controller, Linear Technology Corporation To achieve these goals, the Washington Legislature directed the state s Department of Commerce to develop the state s energy strategy. In the most recent update, Commerce concluded the state must adopt policies around electric energy that will help to provide a broader approach to energy efficiency in buildings, and a diverse supply portfolio through distributed energy. (Washington State Department of Commerce) In Washington state, there are 62 utilities, three investor-owned utilities and 59 consumer-owned utilities, of which only 17 are required to meet the standards of the EIA. Investors owned utilities are regulated by the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC). The Association of Washington Business works with its members to develop policies for the state that maintain business competitiveness and regulatory fairness.

6 Regulatory Businesses and industries located in Washington state enjoy the benefits of a reliable and competitive power supply. Our state is a leader in capitalizing on energy efficiency opportunities to extend supplies and keep prices competitive. Washington state is one of the lowest emissions producing states, ranking fifth in per capita emissions from electric power generation. Today, Washington pulls more than 70 percent of its energy from hydropower (WashACE 2011 Greenbook) and 82 percent from combined renewable energy sources (WashACE 2014 Competitiveness Redbook). This competitive advantage of renewable and inexpensive power is attractive to business considering locating in the state and existing business that have reached the point of expansion. Challenges such as permitting costs, erratic tax incentives, incompatible state by state policies and the imbalanced nature of the state regulatory environment for the energy industry creates cost drivers for energy producers, forcing businesses to look elsewhere when at the point of expansion or locating in the state of Washington. Several specific elements of the regulatory process were noted by our members as fundamental issues that are noteworthy in policy discussions. Washington energy producers, and high energy use businesses, indicated that, while the current infrastructure in the state supports energy generation and delivery, there is a need to build additional infrastructure to support the growing demand and improved services to the electric system. The improvement of infrastructure in the electric system is key to ensuring reliable service in a growing region and integrating non-baseload technologies, like wind and solar. Ensuring that a sustainable infrastructure is in place, however, will require large investments and coordination among many stakeholders. Challenges in siting the necessary new facilities and infrastructure include permitting processes, environmental review processes and other state adopted policies, like the EIA. As Washington policymakers consider infrastructure needs, they must also consider how baseload and non-baseload technologies will interact and support each other, as well as how they relate to the stated goals to provide reliable electricity generation.

7 washington energy consumption by end-use sector (2011) Source: Energy Information Administration, State Energy Data System Transportation 28.8% Industrial 28.2% Residential 24.5% Commercial 18.6% Interactions with federal, state and local permitting processes and regulatory schemes also lead to delay and uncertainty, adding to the overall costs of electricity in Washington. Utilities must comply with a broad array of regulatory requirements, including: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Federal Clean Air Act Federal Clean Water Act State and Federal Environmental Policy Act Growth Management Act Shoreline Management Act Local development rules Often these various laws and regulations conflict with policy goals established by the Legislature. In addition, investor-owned utilities are also regulated by the UTC. In Washington state, the UTC provides consumer protection by overseeing the investments and cost recovery of investor-owned utilities. This layer of regulation is unique to the investor-owned utilities in Washington, as the other 59 consumer owned utilities are not exposed to UTC oversight. These types of regulatory processes threaten the very thing that makes Washington state attractive to business: inexpensive, reliable energy. By acknowledging the existence of each process, and understanding the inherent conflicts between them will help establish better processes for review of energy related projects. Having differing regulatory schemes makes it incumbent on policymakers to ensure that a level playing field should be maintained for all customers across the state, regardless of the electric provider. The exemption from sales and use taxes on manufacturing machinery and equipment has been extremely beneficial to the power generation industry in the state of Washington. Unfortunately, the structure of the tax incentive system, with uncertain long-term reliability, can negatively influence long-term decision making and investment. Tax certainty is vital for business planning and growth. One of the key themes among the people who participated in this study was the need to nationalize climate policy. Nowhere is this more important than in greenhouse gas emissions policies. When climate policies of bordering states are not equitable, it can become difficult for that state, its citizens and businesses to compete with neighboring economies.

8 the pacific northwest national lab, a leader in smart grid research, conducts more than $1 billion in research and development annually and employs 4,400 people Source: PNNL Innovation Washington state is home to some of the world s most innovative manufacturers in the energy efficiency and smart grid infrastructure arena. Companies such as Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories in Pullman, Itron in Spokane, and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland create and manufacture products that provide cost efficiencies for businesses and protect the environment. This innovative work has helped to support current businesses in expansion and attract new business to the state. Washington state is part of the Western Interconnection, one of two major alternating current power grids in North America. Energy producers and distributors in Washington state are confident in the ability of the power grid to support the Western region of the U.S. but have some energy infrastructure concerns for future needs including the need for: Additional natural gas pipeline; Increased nuclear power capabilities in the Tri-Cities, where infrastructure is present to support such expansion; Improved infrastructure to support expanded use of electric vehicles, natural gas vehicles and maritime vessels; and Increased transmission lines to support residential use and business expansion. the u.s. electricity segment contains more than 6,413 power plants Innovative infrastructure and power grid manufacturing for the energy industry is vital to continuing to provide reliable and affordable energy resources to the state s businesses. AWB will work with businesses and the state of Washington to support these development efforts. this includes 3,273 traditional electric utilities and 1,738 nonutility power producers with approximately 1,075 gigawatts of installed generation Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security

9 Workforce The last major recession in the 1990s and a period of energy industry de-regulation led to company mergers and increased efficiencies in the nationwide industry. This resulted in slow growth and reduced need in the energy workforce. As the country slowly recovers from its most recent economic recession, the majority of the energy workforce has started to move into retirement. In 2006, it was projected that 50 percent of the electric utility workforce was set to retire within 10 years (Workforce Challenges of Electric Sector Employers in Washington and Oregon, 2006). Washington state must begin to address this trend. By 2020, the utility industry in Washington state will need 32,400 line workers to fill vacancies and by 2015, 38 percent of engineers in the utility field will need to be replaced due to retirements (Washington State Employment Security Department). The energy industry is similar to other industries in the state. Businesses participating in the listening sessions indicated that soft skills are lacking in the current workforce pool; that the pipeline is not sufficiently stocked with adequately trained workforce; and that impending retirements threaten the viability of the state s business sector. The state of Washington has world class higher education resources to train the next generation of workers. Public and private partnerships must address the following concerns to support the energy industry s training system: A greater focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) training in the high schools. Developing enough workers with good soft skills (also categorized as employability skills) to offset job openings caused by retirements. Developing teacher training programs to inform K-12 teachers and administrators those who guide and counsel the next generation of workers about career possibilities in the energy industry. Supporting post-secondary training programs.

10 Energy is one of the biggest cost drivers for businesses in Washington state, and for years we ve enjoyed that advantage with hydropower. We have to find a way to maintain this competitive advantage if we want to attract new business or expect current businesses to expand here. Lori Mattson, President & CEO, Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce Hydroelectric 70.7% Wind 3.38% Biomass 1.37% Other 24.55% sources of energy production in washington state Source: WashACE 2011 Competitiveness Greenbook sources of energy production in the united states Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security 48% Coal Combustion 22% Natural Gas Combustion 20% Nuclear Power Plants 6% Hydroelectric Plants 3% Renewable 1% Oil

11 Next Steps It is imperative that the state and federal regulatory environment support energy production and distribution so that Washington businesses can continue to enjoy the state s reliable and inexpensive energy resources. AWB members continuously cite the cost of energy as one of the top considerations for business expansion or relocation. AWB will work with the state s energy producers and distributors, as well as elected officials and agency partners, to address the following and support the energy industry in the state: The regulatory environment in the state of Washington is different between consumer-owned and investor-owned utilities, which can create challenges for some residential and commercial consumers. Tax incentives, such as the manufacturing sales and use tax incentive, are critical to support business expansion in the state. Greenhouse gas emission policies should avoid putting Washington based businesses at a competitive disadvantage and focus on a national approach, as well as provide for new initiatives and incentives for clean energy opportunities in the state. The state must support the continued research and development of emerging and further developing energy resources and products in Washington. The lack of soft skills (employability skills) among job candidates, and the overall number of skilled job candidates, must be addressed in order to ensure the next generation of workers is prepared to support the energy industry.

12 To learn more about AWB Institute or this report, contact: Brandon Houskeeper Amy Johnson Or, call

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