As someone who was born and raised in beautiful Central Washington, I understand the importance of bolstering our clean energy resources. For as long as I can remember, our communities have been recognized as a hub for innovative solutions that ensure a cleaner, brighter, more energy-efficient future for us all.
This week, we celebrate National Clean Energy Week. During this time, Americans are encouraged to consider the impact that clean energy has on our daily lives, and Central Washington is no exception. The diverse energy sources in our region — from hydropower and nuclear energy to wind, biomass and solar power — make Central Washington a shining example of an all-of-the-above energy system the rest of the nation should strive to achieve.
Perhaps the most significant clean energy source in our backyards is hydropower. Our impressive dam system provides reliable energy to millions of people, and according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Washington state generates more hydroelectric power than any other state. The Grand Coulee Dam is the largest power station in the nation, supplying an average of 21 billion kilowatt-hours of clean, affordable and reliable electricity to 11 states and Canada each year.
Additionally, the Columbia and Snake River dams produce nearly 60% of the energy in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Many self-proclaimed environmentalists have tried to remove this important clean energy infrastructure, but those who listen to sound science have refuted their claims. I am honored to stand in steadfast support for this vital energy source that literally fuels our region.
Wind turbines scattered throughout Central Washington generate more than 3,000 megawatts of electricity each year. Adams County is home to Washington’s largest solar farm, which is 25 times larger than any other solar farm in the state, and earlier this month, Violet Power announced they would be locating a new solar power manufacturing plant in Moses Lake, creating 1,000 jobs and helping the U.S. secure our energy independence from countries like China.
It would also be a disservice to our region to recognize National Clean Energy Week and not discuss the important role of nuclear power. The only nuclear power reactor in the Pacific Northwest, located in Richland, Washington, produces more than 8% of our state’s electricity, employs nearly 1,000 Washingtonians, and contributes more than $13 million in annual tax revenue.
Through the use of low enriched uranium fuel, miniature nuclear reactions boil water and produce steam to spin a turbine and to create electricity. The entire process emits zero greenhouse gases and has up to double the energy production capacity of natural gas and coal units. In 2018, just one nuclear power plant in rural Washington prevented the release of 6.21 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. Numerous studies have shown that nuclear power is one of the most reliable, sustainable and affordable forms of clean energy, and Central Washington benefits greatly from it.
Scientists and researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have demonstrated national leadership in grid storage research, advancing our ability to store and better utilize our renewable energy resources. Earlier this summer, I joined U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette at the site dedication for the new Grid Storage Launchpad, an investment by the federal government recognizing that the incredible work at PNNL will help the United States win the global “battery arms race.”
This National Clean Energy Week, we recognize that we still have work to do to secure our nation’s energy independence and clean energy future, but there is a bright future ahead. Central Washington has served as a leader in sustainable energy development for decades, and I will continue to ensure that our communities are at the forefront of clean energy innovation.