Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Press Conference on Energy
December 11, 2000

Last Friday I asked citizens and businesses in Washington to conserve energy to avoid power disruptions during the cold snap that has descended upon our region. I am very pleased by the response so far, but I caution that we must continue to conserve.

I'd like to give you an update of where we stand today.

The weather over the weekend was slightly more moderate than originally forecast. People in Washington and Oregon have responded admirably to requests by Gov. Kitzhaber and myself to conserve electricity. Power loads are down as a result and efforts did make a difference.

However, we still face a very serious electrical shortfall. We now expect the cold weather to stay with us through Friday. So it is important, it is critical, that we continue to take steps to conserve energy in our region.

I want to make you aware of some of the things we're doing at the state level since I spoke to you on Friday.

I have written to California Governor Gray Davis to ask his assistance in getting idle California power plants up and running to help ease the potential problems in the Pacific Northwest this winter.

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission met in emergency session on Saturday and granted authority to utilities to offer business customers financial incentives to curb power use during times of potential energy shortages. We hope this order, which went into effect yesterday and runs until the end of March, will help us during times of tight energy supply. Marilyn Showalter, the Chair of the Utilities Transportation Commission, is here and can speak about this in a moment.

On Friday, our staff met with the representatives of the Department of Ecology, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Puget Sound Energy to discuss ways to operate generation facilities which have been limited by air pollution restrictions.

Puget Sound Energy has indicated that it will use unexpired air pollution credits to run its Frederickson plant near Spanaway for the next few days - without exceeding air pollution limits. This plant can produce about 150 megawatts.

Puget Sound Energy and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency also have agreed in principle to negotiate a consent agreement which would allow continued operation of the plant during the winter energy alerts in return for a commitment to make significant improvements in air pollution control.

By noon today, all state agency directors will have reported to my chief of staff on specific measures they have taken to conserve energy in their agencies. We expect all state agencies to reduce their use of energy from 5 to 10 percent.

I am calling once again on all citizens of Washington to help us conserve energy and avoid disruptions to our power supplies during the coming days. I ask citizens, businesses and public agencies to use as little electricity as possible during peak hours, which are from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. and 4 to 8 p.m.

I am again calling on all residents, individual citizens, to cut energy use from 5 to 10 percent. Turn off lights in empty rooms. Turn off your computers completely when you are not using them, as well as radios and televisions when not in use. Turn heaters down to 66 or 67 degrees. Use microwave ovens instead of electric stoves. Run dishwashers before bed instead of during peak periods. Turn down hot water heater thermostats. Use one appliance at a time and don't turn on your Christmas lights until 8 p.m.

We also want to stress that businesses and government agencies should implement procedures to conserve energy. They should turn off lights at the end of the business day. Turn off computers at night and on weekends. Turn thermostats down and limit display and advertising lighting.

We have been very pleased by the cooperation we have received so far from so many Washington citizens and businesses. I have seen with my own eyes how many offices and commercial buildings are turning their lights off, how many families are keeping their holiday lights off until 8 p.m. I have also heard from people this weekend, what they are doing in small but significant ways to save energy, thus making sure that there is enough electricity available for other people across the state. Every step helps.

Let's persevere, and let's ensure that we have adequate power this week and throughout the coming winter.
Access Washington