Chelan PUD Commissioners wait and see on Carbon Tax legislation

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WENATCHEE- Chelan County PUD Commissioners began taking up the issue of the proposed carbon tax at a study session Feb. 21. NCWLIFE’s Grant Olson has more.

The carbon tax would affect agriculture, transportation and energy. There are currently two Senate Bills regarding a carbon tax, two House Bills and two Initiatives.

PUD General Manager Steve Wright says while reducing carbon emissions would have little impact on Chelan County electric ratepayers because hydro-power is essentially emissions free. Over the next few weeks the PUD needs to focus on the part of the bill they know best– energy.

Wright also adds that while the PUD is being proactive in tackling the issue, taking affirmative action now is premature.

“It’s revenues and costs associated with this proposed legislation, this may evolve to a place over the course of the next week or so where it becomes more intensely impactful to us, we intend to keep you informed about that,” Wright said.

Wright says if the carbon tax mandates substantial expansion of requirements for electric utilities to purchase non-hydro renewable resources, it would lead to building more generating resources than are needed, increase electricity surpluses and would reduce the value of all non-carbon emitting resources including hydro-power.

But, if a price on carbon in the electric sector achieves more carbon reduction for less cost than alternative policies, it reduces the use of the largest carbon emitters– coal and natural gas plants, while encouraging the use of least cost carbon-free resources like energy efficiency and hydro-power.