Washington governor signs bill to promote renewable natural gas

Washington governor signs bill to promote renewable natural gas

The bill will help promote renewable natural gas from landfills, wastewater treatment plants, food processing facilities and agriculture.

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Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill into law March 22 designed to result in the increased development and use of renewable natural gas in Washington.

“This bill will help in our fight against climate change by reducing highly polluting methane emissions and displacing fossil fuels with low-carbon, renewable sources of biogas,” Inslee says. “As we transition to a clean-energy future, this will help us promote production of renewable natural gas from landfills, wastewater treatment plants, food processing and agriculture, while also helping create jobs and promote rural economic development across our state.”

Renewable natural gas (RNG, biomethane or upgraded biogas) is produced from biogas, which is emitted during the natural decomposition of organic materials in renewable waste streams. RNG is a domestic, sustainable product that is increasingly being used to substitute for geologic natural gas to produce renewable electricity, heat and ultra-low carbon transportation fuel.

“By supporting renewable natural gas project development, Washington’s leaders are supporting the creation of clean energy sector jobs, improved air quality and public health,” Johannes Escudero, CEO of the Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas (RNG Coalition), says. “Methane mitigation, carbon sequestration and decarbonization of our existing natural gas infrastructure occur with each new RNG project.”

The RNG Coalition and supportive stakeholders were able to overcome challenges and garner approval for the bill in the final days of a shortened 2018 executive session. Proponents of the bill also include the Northwest Gas Association and regional renewable energy companies Promus Energy, Seattle, and Regenis, Ferndale, Washington.

“Governor Inslee and the Department of Commerce were pleased to request this bill, which received near unanimous, bipartisan support from the legislature,” Peter Moulton, energy policy section manager, Washington Department of Commerce, says. “We look forward to working with interested stakeholders to advance RNG production and use, especially by public facilities and fleets.”

To spur development of RNG in Washington, the bill will:

  • Require the Washington State University Extension Energy Program and the Department of Commerce, in consultation with the Utilities and Transportation Commission, to submit recommendations on how to promote the sustainable development of RNG to the governor and the energy committees of the legislature by September 1, 2018;
  • Require the Department of Commerce, in consultation with natural gas utilities and other state agencies, to explore the development of voluntary gas quality standards for the injection of RNG into the state’s natural gas pipeline system; and
  • Reinstate and expand incentives in order to stimulate investment in biogas capture and conditioning, compression, nutrient recovery, and use of RNG for heating, electricity generation and transportation fuel. 

“The region’s natural gas utilities have received renewable natural gas onto their systems for years,” Dan Kirschner, executive director of Northwest Gas Association, says. “This measure promises to stimulate more RNG production in Washington State, allowing natural gas consumers there to make productive use of a resource that would otherwise be discarded.”