Hawkins’ hydropower tax incentive bill approved by key House committee

The House Finance Committee today has approved Senate Bill 6012, a hydropower tax incentive bill sponsored by Sen. Brad Hawkins that helps acknowledge hydropower’s important role in providing clean energy. Improved tax treatment for hydropower has been a key priority for Hawkins, the mid-Columbia PUDs that he represents, and many other hydropower owners throughout the state.

Senate Bill 6012, related to renewable energy incentives, was approved by the Finance Committee in an amended form. The committee’s changes broaden the eligibility for the tax incentives beyond oil-free technology in an effort to benefit hydroelectric projects owned by municipal utilities, private utilities, and public utilities over an 11-year period, an extension of one additional year. To qualify, the refurbishments would need to provide additional support for the transition toward the Clean Energy Transformation Act.

Hawkins was pleased to advance SB 6012 further in the process. His first version of the bill was introduced last year as an effort to promote equal tax treatment between hydropower clean energy and non-hydro clean energy, such as wind and solar. He narrowed the bill earlier this session to advance it out of the Senate and to keep the bill moving.

“I’m very excited that the bill is advancing and has been broadened to pick up the support of more hydro stakeholders. They clearly sensed that the bill was on the move and wanted to join in with support,” said Hawkins.

The next major step in the legislative process is a vote by the House of Representatives and then what is known as a “concurrence vote” by the Senate. The bill’s revenue impacts – now approximately $5 million per biennium as amended by the House Finance Committee – must also be implemented in the final supplemental operating budget to be approved at the end of session. The Finance Committee chair, Rep. Gael Tarleton (D-36th District), helped structure the committee amendment with an expanded fiscal benefit.

Hawkins thanks Chair Tarleton and his 12th District seatmates, Rep. Keith Goehner and Rep. Mike Steele, who both sponsored an oil-free hydro tax incentive bill earlier this session. Hawkins said successful passage of a hydropower tax incentive, if a bill makes it to the governor, will be a “12th District team effort” and added, “We are pushing very hard to get a bill across the finish line.”

Hawkins expressed appreciation for what this bill would signify statewide for hydropower.

“The Clean Energy Transformation Act approved last session was heralded by many of my colleagues and promoted nationally by the governor, but our state cannot achieve such a level of clean energy without our renewable hydropower. Last year’s bill extended tax benefits to all of the other clean energy sources, so I’m thankful my colleagues are recognizing the need to include hydropower as well,” said Hawkins.

Last December, Hawkins was awarded the Washington PUD Association’s “Legislative Champion” Award for securing the passage of SB 5588 (PUD renewable hydrogen) and for his efforts last session toward promoting hydro tax treatment in SB 6012.