Housing costs will skyrocket under bill allowing utility to shut off the gas, Wilson says

Credit: CC 2.0/ Steve Jurvetson

OLYMPIA – A bill allowing the state’s largest gas-and-electric utility to start shutting off the gas to thousands of customers will dramatically increase the cost of housing in Washington state, says Sen. Jeff Wilson, R-Longview.

“In a time when everyone in the Legislature is talking about making housing affordable, this is going to make rents take off like a rocketship,” Wilson said.

House Bill 1589 passed the state Senate Friday 27-22, and will return to the House for a final vote on amendments before the Legislature’s scheduled adjournment on Thursday. The bill allows Puget Sound Energy to propose shutting off gas service throughout its service territory starting in 2027. Regulators at the state Utilities and Transportation Commission would have to approve.

Wilson was among those who voted no.

“This is probably the most consequential bill of this year’s legislative session, but I think it’s going to take a while to sink in,” Wilson said. “Every homeowner in the Puget Sound Energy service territory who has a gas furnace or a gas water heater is going to have to pay to replace it. Everyone who owns a prewar house with knob-and-tube wiring is going to pay for expensive upgrades. I know people who will face expenses of $50,000 or more.

“Yet this will do absolutely nothing to affect climate change. All it will do is allow one utility to meet emissions goals set by foolish legislation, at the expense of its customers. People who live outside PSE’s service territory aren’t safe. The Legislature is under the control of a majority that has gone mad with climate-change ideology, and everyone in the state who has a gas furnace is at risk.”

Wilson said he sees irony in the fact that affordable housing has been a top issue for legislators of both parties for the last two sessions. “The cost of housing in Washington state is headed for outer space, and policies like this one are the reason,” he said.