Ecology proposes rulemaking on electricity markets

(OLYMPIA)– The Department of Ecology has proposed rule changes to ensure that greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity imported into Washington through centralized electricity markets are accounted for under the Climate Commitment Act (CCA). These changes are required by the CCA and necessary to ensure compliance with the law, according to a news release from Ecology.

Centralized electricity markets facilitate cost-effective and reliable electricity trading over large geographic areas. As of now, one centralized electricity market is serving Washington, and two others are in development. However, the operators of these markets have not built the necessary data infrastructure to identify and track the greenhouse gas emissions of imported electricity.

Passed in 2021, the CCA is Washington’s most far-reaching climate policy and will play a key role in meeting statutory greenhouse gas emission limits. Ecology must account for emissions from electricity purchased through centralized electricity markets in order to ensure the law functions properly, and this rulemaking will give market operators the clarity they need to collect emissions data and identify importing entities. This rulemaking focuses on electricity from known generation sources. As centralized electricity markets continue to develop, additional rulemaking will be needed to ensure Ecology’s rules fully capture emissions from electricity that cannot be traced to a specific generation source.

Though Washington currently exports more electricity than it imports, electricity imports are projected to increase. The Department of Commerce projects as much as 40% of Washington’s electricity will be imported by 2050 due to population growth and the transition from fossil fuels to cleaner sources of energy.

A preliminary regulatory analysis for this rulemaking has been completed, and Ecology is accepting public comments on the rule until 11:59 pm on August 20, 2024. We will also hold public meetings on the rule during the month of August. More information about this rulemaking can be found on Ecology's website.