Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council. Created in 1970, the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) is the permitting and certifying authority for siting major energy facilities in Washington. EFSEC's siting jurisdiction includes large energy facilities, such as nuclear power plants of any size and thermal electric power plants with a generating capacity of 350 megawatts or greater. Energy facilities of any size that exclusively use alternative energy resources can also opt-in to the EFSEC review and certification process.
Under current law, any person filing an application for certification of an energy facility or an alternative energy resource facility may apply to the EFSEC for an expedited application. EFSEC may grant an applicant expedited processing if they find the environmental impact of the proposed energy facility is not significant or will be mitigated to a nonsignificant level under the State Environmental Policy Act and the project is found to be consistent and in compliance with city, county, or regional land use plans or zoning ordinances.
An alternative energy resource includes energy facilities of the following types: wind, solar energy, geothermal energy, landfill gas, wave or tidal action, or biomass energy based on solid organic fuels from wood, forest, or field residues, or dedicated energy crops that do not include wood pieces treated with chemical preservatives.
Agricultural Lands of Long-Term Commercial Significance. The Growth Management Act (GMA) is the comprehensive land-use planning framework for counties and cities in Washington. Originally enacted in 1990 and 1991, the GMA establishes land-use designation and environmental protection requirements for all Washington counties and cities, and a significantly wider array of planning duties for the 29 counties and the cities within that are obligated, by mandate or choice, to satisfy all planning requirements of the GMA.
Under the GMA, all counties and cities are obligated to designate, where appropriate, natural resource lands of long-term commercial significance, and environmentally sensitive areas. These designation requirements apply to:
The Legislature finds that EFSEC's certification process undermines opportunities for local review of solar energy facilities sited on agricultural lands that have long-term significance for the commercial production of food or other agricultural products.
An alternative energy resource facility that chooses to receive certification from EFSEC is not eligible for expedited processing if it is fueled by solar energy sited on agricultural lands of long-term commercial significance as designated under the GMA.