Gov. Christine Gregoire signed Senate Bill 6044 into law this afternoon, allowing investors to construct water-pump storage facilities along the Columbia River to generate electricity and help balance out the power generated by area wind farms. Sen. Jim Honeyford, R- Sunnyside, said he’s pleased by the support his bill had throughout the process.

“At no point during this legislative session did my bill encounter any resistance, which is always a good sign,” Honeyford remarked after the bill signing. “Both the Senate and the House of Representatives passed it unanimously and the governor had no reason to veto any part of it.”

Honeyford explained that in order for investors to begin their multi-billion dollar projects, 80-year-old restrictions in state law must first be updated. He says SB 6044 bill takes care of that by removing provisions that have outlived their usefulness.

“Once the project gets going, it could mean more jobs and potentially more power for central Washington,” Honeyford said. “It could also be used to supplement wind power during shortages or absorb excess electricity produced during high-wind events.”

SB 6044 would allow a public utility district bordered by the Columbia River to supply water as authorized by a water right under its control, to be used in a pump-storage generating facility. Additionally, it would require contracts concerning the sale of these resources to be approved by a vote of a PUD's commissioners after a minimum of 10 days public notice.

The new law takes effect June 7.