ENGROSSED SENATE JOINT MEMORIAL 8012
State of Washington 57th Legislature 2001 Regular Session
By Senators Fraser, Morton, Regala, McDonald, Honeyford, Patterson, Rasmussen, Hale, Winsley, Oke and Kohl‑Welles
Read first time 02/05/2001. Referred to Committee on Environment, Energy & Water.
TO THE HONORABLE GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, AND TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE AND THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, AND TO THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES, IN CONGRESS ASSEMBLED, AND TO THE HONORABLE SPENCER ABRAHAM, SECRETARY OF THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY, AND TO THE MEMBERS OF THE FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION:
We, your Memorialists, the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Washington, in legislative session assembled, respectfully represent and petition as follows:
WHEREAS, Wholesale prices of electricity have soared to unprecedented levels, reaching as high as thirty times the prices of a year ago; and
WHEREAS, Many of the state's largest businesses purchase power at rates tied to wholesale price indices, and many of these businesses have been forced to curtail operations and lay off hundreds of workers due to high energy costs; and
WHEREAS, These wholesale price increases have led to significantly higher retail power costs for business, farm, and residential consumers, including rate increases of thirty-five percent in Snohomish County, eighteen percent in Seattle, and up to seventy-five percent in Tacoma, with many utilities considering further rate increases; and
WHEREAS, High wholesale energy prices are threatening the very solvency of some northwest utilities that must purchase electricity on the wholesale market; and
WHEREAS, Taxpayer-supported public entities such as universities, colleges, and local governments now face unanticipated costs for energy, some of which are considering scaling programs down to meet these costs; and
WHEREAS, The wholesale power market is a matter of federal, not state, jurisdiction; and
WHEREAS, Actions taken to date by the federal Department of Energy and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to address problems in the wholesale market have not resulted in any meaningful reduction in wholesale power prices; and
WHEREAS, On December 14, 2000, and January 11, 2001, the United States Secretary of Energy issued orders requiring certain energy entities to generate, deliver, interchange, and transmit electric energy when requested by the California Independent System Operator. These orders have been extended on repeated additional occasions. Several of the companies that received the energy from these entities are in an unstable financial condition, and there are serious questions about their ability to meet their obligations to pay for this electricity; and
WHEREAS, Without strong and immediate action by the federal government to lower wholesale power prices, Washington and other western states could suffer long-term and irreversible economic harm;
NOW, THEREFORE, Your Memorialists respectfully pray that the President of the United States, the Department of Energy, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission take strong short-term measures to reduce wholesale costs throughout the western United States. Your Memorialists also respectfully pray that Congress assure that the northwest utilities that sent power to the State of California under federal mandates will be fully compensated, for the electricity they sent in response to the orders, through federal guarantees or guarantees through the State of California.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the new administration act immediately to develop and implement a long-term strategy to reform the wholesale energy market to avoid continued price spikes that threaten to undermine the prosperity of the western United States; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the new administration commit to provide necessary assistance to low-income citizens who are most at risk from volatile energy prices; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the new administration commit to allowing Western states to work out the energy supply needs of the region through existing working relationships, and that no additional orders instructing all surplus power be sold to California be made; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That copies of this Memorial be immediately transmitted to the Honorable George W. Bush, President of the United States, the Honorable Spencer Abraham, the Secretary of the United States Department of Energy, the Members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the President of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and each member of Congress from the State of Washington.
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