Governor signs Hawkins’ bill allowing PUD production and sale of renewable hydrogen

Gov. Jay Inslee today signed the bill introduced by 12th District state Sen. Brad Hawkins that provides authority to the Douglas County PUD and other Washington PUDs to produce and sell a new type of clean energy. Attendees of today’s bill signing included officials from public utility districts across the state, company representatives from Toyota, members of the Renewable Hydrogen Alliance, and key legislators who supported Hawkins’ bill. 

Substitute Senate Bill 5588 authorizes PUDs to produce, distribute and sell renewable hydrogen. It also defines “renewable hydrogen” in statute as “hydrogen produced using renewable resources both as the source of the hydrogen and the source for the energy input into the production process.” The House of Representatives passed it 97-0 earlier this month after the Senate approved it 47-0 in February.

“This new law will allow our hydropower utilities to lead our state in another form of clean energy – renewable hydrogen,” said Hawkins. “Our PUDs have been leaders in clean energy for decades, and this law will allow them to continue their positive and innovative work.”

The Douglas County PUD, which requested the bill, plans to use electrolysis to separate hydrogen molecules from oxygen molecules in water to produce renewable hydrogen. Renewable hydrogen does not produce carbon emissions when it is produced or consumed.

“In the springtime, our hydro utilities have been experiencing difficulties when flows are high on the Columbia River and Northwest wind and solar facilities generate large amounts of power,” said Hawkins. “Spilling excess water over our dams can adversely impact fish, and generating additional electricity in times of oversupply can hurt us economically. Douglas PUD hopes to create hydrogen using its surplus electricity and then sell it. This bill opens the door to making that possible.”

The bipartisan legislation has 32 co-sponsors, including 16 Democrats and 16 Republicans.

Company representatives bring Toyota Mirai to the state Capitol for demonstrations

Soon after the SSB 5588 bill-signing ceremony was completed, Hawkins, Inslee, and other legislators joined PUD representatives and other clean energy advocates for a hydrogen-vehicle demonstration outside the Capitol Building. Company representatives from Toyota were on hand with their Toyota Mirai, a fuel cell electric vehicle powered by hydrogen. Other legislators, legislative staff, and PUD commissioners were able to test drive the Mirai on the state Capitol Campus throughout the day.