Washington utilities challenge Clean Air Rule

Published on September 30, 2016 by Alyssa Michaud

Four utility companies filed a joint action in the U.S. District Court on Tuesday, challenging the Washington Department of Ecology recent promulgation of the Clean Air Rule (CAR).

Avista Corp., Cascade Natural Gas Corp., NW Natural and Puget Sound Energy offered feedback and public comment prior to the promulgation of CAR, but found that their input was not taken into consideration in the rule’s final form. The companies are pressing for CAR to be overturned, saying that in its current form, the rule would effectively increase carbon emissions and penalize customers for using clean natural gas.

In its present structure, the utilities said, CAR sets a cap on greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources located in Washington, including natural gas utilities. The cap will decrease over time, requiring covered entities to reduce their carbon emissions.

The utilities group brought three arguments against CAR. The companies raised concerns that Washington’s modern and clean natural gas facilities will be passed over in favor of out-of-state coal plants and less-efficient gas plants. They also argue that new energy projects in Washington cannot be developed at a rate and scale that is adequate to meet the state’s needs in a cost-effective or realistic manner. Additionally, they contend that CAR will have the ultimate effect of discouraging consumers from choosing clean natural gas for their home heating needs.