Olympia and Washington, D.C. appear to be in love with high cost wind and solar power while discriminating against low cost hydro power. Generous government subsidizes are provided to encourage the development of these new intermittent resources.
For example, if a homeowner puts solar panels on their rooftop, they can get a credit from the state of 54 cents for each kilowatt produced, when using solar components made in Washington State. Wind developers receive generous investment tax credits and production tax credits from both state and federal governments and ultimately you, the taxpayer. The cost of hydroelectric energy is about three to four cents per kilowatt hour, while wind costs 11 to 12 cents per kilowatt and can only be relied on about 30% of the time. It must also be firmed up with other resources, often power or natural gas turbines. Without significant advances in low cost energy storage technology, intermittent wind and solar will never be a low cost, self sustaining resource like hydropower.
In my opinion, it’s time to level the playing field. Hydropower needs to be considered an eligible renewable too. If governments are going to provide incentives to build carbon free energy resources, they shouldn’t be picking the technology or the winners and losers; that is the job for utility experts who understand the complexities of keeping the electricity flowing 24/7.
By including new, low impact hydroelectric in the State’s renewable portfolio standards, both the ratepayers and the taxpayers will save money. After all, hydropower is really free solar energy with storage. Mother Nature, via the sun, evaporation, condensation and rain, recycles water continuously- from the mountain tops, to the ocean and over again. Hydropower is the simplest and most cost effective energy resource in the world with the lightest environmental footprint. Don’t you think it’s time for a change from Olympia? That’s my view.
Sincerely, Karl Denison Commissioner, District 1