Washington bill boosts ‘advanced nuclear reactor technology’ for state’s green future

A new bill in the Washington state House weighs into the state's carbon-neutral future by insisting nuclear power be a big part of the solution.

Published: February 2, 2023 6:50pm

Updated: February 3, 2023 7:24am

(The Center Square) -

A new bill in the Washington state House weighs into the state's carbon-neutral future by insisting nuclear power be a big part of the solution.

The stated intent of HB 1584 is "Planning for advanced nuclear reactor technology in Washington."

If enacted, the bill would require Washington's future energy plans to include "consideration of measures that will promote the development of advanced nuclear reactor technology in Washington."

State GOP Rep. Stephanie Barnard is optimistic about the bill she's co-sponsoring having the potential to help expand nuclear power as an energy resource for the state.

"Advanced nuclear reactor technology is price competitive with other renewables," she said. "Because it's reliable and can be used on a large scale, nuclear energy can reduce our dependence on carbon-producing energy supplies."

Barnard sits in the minority on the state House Environment and Energy Committee, where the bill is pending.

She argues the state's Clean Energy Transformation Act, won't achieve its stated objective of have nothing but clean energy in Washington by 2045 won't happen without expanding many "clean" alternatives, including nuclear power.

The Washington governor's office weighs in on pending legislation only sporadically. In this case, it did not support or oppose pending nuclear bills but rather helped the Legislature to weigh their merits.

"I checked with our energy folks and there's a similar Senate proposal – SB 5129 – that Commerce testified on," said Jaime Smith, Gov. Jay Inslee's head of communications, in an email to The Center Square. "They didn't oppose it but noted the bill tells us to do something we already do, which is consider advanced nuclear technology in developing the state energy strategy."

Smith also said: "We don't know currently whether nuclear will be the best solution in 2045, but we plan to revisit all commercially-available technologies, including nuclear, when we update the State Energy Strategy in 2028."

In addition, she raised concerns about  HB 1584 omits is the acknowledgement the state needs a "long-term solution for spent nuclear fuel."

She also argued that CETA, which Inslee signed in 2019 and still supports, "allows nuclear as a clean source of electricity."

The House Environment and Energy will hold a public hearing on the bill Feb. 7.

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