Renewable heat now qualifies for Wash. energy credits

By Luke Geiver | March 30, 2012

Renewable thermal energy now qualifies for renewable energy credits (RECs) in the state of Washington after Gov. Christine Gregoire signed a bill originally sponsored by Rep. Jeff Morris, D-Anacortes. 

In an overwhelming show of support, the bill passed the Washington House with a vote of 97-0, and the Senate with a vote of 47-1, all while garnering support from organizations ranging from utility providers to environmental groups. In addition to adding renewable thermal applications to the list of qualified REC generators, the bill signed by Gregoire also requires utilities to add renewable thermal energy to the list of alternative energy resources provide. The list includes biomass heat, geothermal, solar, or heat recovery at wastewater facilities.

Chuck Collins, CEO of Cascade Power Group, a Bellevue-based energy conservation and renewable energy project developer, said the bill changes the way people think about energy. “Until now, when people said renewable energy they just meant electricity,” he said. “Now, we’re changing the conversation to include thermal resources. 

For Robert Thornton, CEO of International District Energy Association, the passing of the bill will bring more money from investors. “This bill will help unleash investment in highly efficient and environmentally responsible solutions,” he said, adding that it will also set a standard for other states to follow.

Stan Gent, Seattle Steam Company president and CEO, said the bill will help the state understand the important role thermal energy has to play in a sustainable energy future. “Understanding how district energy—where renewable heat or waste heat from industry can be used to heat properties—opens the door to new ways to use today’s technologies for future cost effective solutions.” 

Seattle Steam currently operates four boilers, one of which is powered with woody biomass.