Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Harvesting Clean Energy for Rural Development Conference
January 29, 2001
Thank you for the opportunity to speak about an issue that is so important to the economic futures of both rural and urban Washington.
That issue, of course, is finding ways to harness clean energy sources at a time when we desperately need them not only to meet power demand, but also to protect the environment.
So I’m very pleased to amplify what you already know.
For rural Washington, the growing demand for energy in our state and region is a golden opportunity. Those of you east of the mountains are capable of providing more of the new energy supply our entire state so urgently needs. And in the process, you’re capable of building a better economy for your communities, yourselves and your children.
I see the development of clean energy sources as something that will be market-driven. It is no longer the least bit exotic to think of wind and biomass as anything other than two more important energy sources. These sources are essential and they will be developed.
Nevertheless, there is a lot state government can do right now to help.
I have just proposed to the Legislature, tax breaks for business and farms that want to produce their own permanent power, thereby freeing up electricity for the rest of us. I’ve also proposed tax breaks for citizens and businesses buying clean and renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and fuel cells.
In addition, I propose we require utilities to procure a portion of their energy from alternative, renewable sources. Those include wind, solar, fuel cells and biomass. Companies can offset that requirement with investments in conservation.
Our future depends on clean, renewable energy sources -- including wind for power and biomass for fuel. And the wide-open landscape of Eastern Washington is a vital energy source.
We know that -- already -- wind plants in both the Northwest and Midwest are providing farmers and ranchers far more in yield per acre than they can expect to get for traditional crops, while still allowing them to farm their land. And wind power is serious power. We expect about 300 megawatts of wind power to go online in the Northwest this year, nearly enough to power 100,000 homes.
Another huge energy source can be found in the fertile farmland of Washington. I’m talking, of course, about bio-fuels -- the most prominent example being ethanol, used to make gasoline burn cleaner.
I believe rural Washington’s future as a source of clean energy is very real.
I also believe that rural Washington will go a long way toward helping us create “One Washington” in which urban and rural citizens enjoy the same economic prosperity.
Thank you very much.