Legislature approves Hawkins’ bill allowing PUD production and sale of renewable hydrogen

The Legislature has approved a bill introduced by 12th District state Sen. Brad Hawkins that would give authority to the Douglas County Public Utility District and other PUDs in Washington to produce and sell a new type of clean energy.

Substitute Senate Bill 5588 would authorize PUDs to produce, distribute and sell renewable hydrogen. The House of Representatives today voted 97-0 to pass the proposal. The Senate had approved it 47-0 in February. The proposal now goes to Gov. Jay Inslee for final consideration.

“I’m excited about the opportunity for PUDs to produce and sell renewable hydrogen,” said Hawkins. “Our PUDs have been leaders in clean energy for decades, and this bill would allow them to continue to lead with another form of clean energy. Renewable hydrogen can be used as a transportation fuel as well as for other purposes.” Hawkins noted that Toyota is among numerous stakeholders interested in the bill, and the Washington PUD Association supports Hawkins’ legislation.

The Douglas County PUD, which asked Hawkins to sponsor 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.

Officials with the Douglas County PUD and Renewable Hydrogen Alliance testified in favor of the bill during its March 14 public hearing in the House Environment and Energy Committee.

“Our hydro utilities have experienced difficulties in the springtime when flows are high on the Columbia River and when wind and solar generation are significant in the Pacific Northwest,” said Hawkins. “Spilling excess water over our dams can adversely impact fish, and generating additional electricity in times of oversupply can impact us economically because we are the owners of the dams. Douglas PUD hopes to create hydrogen using its surplus electricity and then sell it. This bill would help make that possible.”

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