Buck addresses energy crisis

Buck says Locke energy package comes up short 

Olympia, WA - Jan. 26, 2001 - The package of energy legislation proposed this week by Gov. Gary Locke fails to provide a comprehensive long-term solution to the Northwest power shortage, according to Rep. Jim Buck, chairman of the House Republican Caucus. 

The governor, appearing at a news conference with a bipartisan cadre of legislators from the House and Senate, unveiled several energy proposals aimed at encouraging conservation and diversifying Washington's energy system. 

Buck said Locke's proposals represent a step in the right direction, but come up short of what is needed. 

"The governor's energy plan includes elements that we support, but the package comes up short on the key issue, which is encouraging development of new power-generating facilities to meet the region's future needs. As a former Army artillery officer, I'm encouraged that he's close to the target, but he's missed the bull's-eye," said Buck, R-Joyce. 

"We haven't made a major commitment to new generation in this state since the 1970s, and it's caught up with us. Unless we increase generation capacity, this electrical crunch will continue to take a toll on our economy and drive energy costs higher for quite some time," he added. 

House Republicans are proposing their own package of legislation aimed at addressing the issue of energy supply. 

The GOP plan encourages conservation by businesses and residential customers, but focuses primarily on ways of developing new power resources. 

"We heartily embrace the concept of putting forth an assertive effort to encourage conservation, but it has to be balanced with an aggressive strategy to increase supply," said Buck. 

Among the elements of the House Republican plan is a proposal that would streamline regulations so that plants up to 550 megawatts would not have to go through the state review process, as long as they meet local and federal requirements. 

The plan would also give the governor authority to expedite the siting of new generation facilities. 

"We have facilities in this state that are ready to be built so that they can begin producing power. They're just waiting for permits from state agencies," Buck said. 

"The review process can take years. We're encouraging the governor to streamline the bureaucracy so we can get these facilities up and running. 

"Our goals are ambitious, but achievable, and this is not a partisan issue. But without a commitment to bringing new power resources on line, there's just no way to ensure there will be adequate supplies of electricity for future generations," he concluded.