Washington leads the nation in electricity generation from renewable resources. Most of this can be attributed to hydroelectric power, which provides more than two-thirds of the state's electricity. In fact, eight of the state's ten largest power plants are hydroelectric facilities. The Grand Coulee Dam on Washington's Columbia River has the most capacity of any power plant in the country by far. This plant produces more than 21 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, enough to power 2.3 million homes. Some of this electricity is exported to other states like California and Idaho.
Wind power is the second largest source of renewable energy in Washington, providing about 7% of the state's electricity in 2016. Washington has the 9th most wind power capacity in the country, with 3,075 MW currently installed. Natural gas is also a major source of electricity in Washington. In 2016 natural gas accounted for about 10% of all electricity production in-state. Nuclear and coal account for most of the rest of Washington's electricity production. However, coal is quickly being replaced by cleaner options like natural gas.
Washington Electricity Prices
Washington has a regulated electricity market, whereby local utility companies set and control electricity prices, generation, and delivery in their service areas.
Fortunately, Washington residents still benefit from lower electricity prices relative to the rest of the country. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average retail price of electricity for Washington residents in December 2016 was 9.16¢ per kWh, a whole 3.05¢ below the average U.S. electricity price of 12.21¢ per kWh.
Residential electricity prices are still on the rise in Washington, though, having increased more than 13% over the past 5 years. This trend has led to higher electricity bills for Washington residents, motivating many to switch to renewable energy (i.e. go solar) to save money.
Washington Energy Mix
Net Electricity Generation By Source:
Source: Energy Information Administration, 2016
Washington has more than doubled it's electricity production from natural gas over the past 5 years. Electricity production from coal has fallen about 12% over the same time period.
Washington Energy Sector Employment
According to the 2017 US Energy and Jobs Report, Washington has 54,515 traditional energy workers and an additional 61,889 jobs in energy efficiency. About 32,300 of the traditional energy jobs are related to the transmission and distribution of energy. Electric power generation creates about 14,600 jobs, most of which come from solar and wind power. Hydroelectricity generation is also a big job creator in Washington, employing about 2,500 people statewide.
Fun fact: more Americans are employed by renewable energy than coal, oil, and gas combined, despite wind and solar energy only making up 5% of the total U.S. energy mix. According to a study from the University of California, Berkeley, solar energy creates over 7 times more jobs than coal or oil per MWh produced. The employment estimates for wind power differ from source to source, but most agree that it also produces more jobs than fossil fuels.
Washington Utility Companies
The largest utility companies in Washington are Puget Sound Energy, Seattle City Light, and Snohomish County PUD. Being in a regulated energy market, these utilities own the entire flow of electricity in their territories and also dictate electricity prices. As such, they are responsible for generating electricity, maintaining infrastructure, delivering electricity, and providing billing to all their residential and business customers across the state.
Puget Sound Energy (PSE)
- Headquartered in Bellevue, WA
- Serves approximately 1.1 million electric customers
- Uses coal for about 35% of their electricity supply
Seattle City Light
- Headquartered in Seattle, WA
- Serves approximately 422,810 electric customers
- Uses coal for less than 1% of their electricity supply
Snohomish County PUD (Public Utility District)
- Headquartered in Everett, WA
- Serves approximately 337,011 electric customers
- Uses coal for about 5% of their electricity supply
Arcadia's Washington Renewable Energy Services
With Arcadia’s clean energy offerings, homeowners and renters across the state can now sign up to reduce their impact, be more energy efficient, and save on their energy bills while keeping their same utility company. Here are three programs currently available to Washington residents.
As a Washington utility customer, you can reduce your impact by matching your home’s electricity usage with renewable energy certificates from wind farms. You can sign up for our 50% Wind Energy plan for free, and begin service with your next utility bill. All you need is your local utility login to link up with Arcadia’s platform and start supporting wind farms each month at no extra cost to you.
We offer a community solar-savings program to homeowners and renters in Washington. No matter where you live, you can subscribe to community solar projects across the country and start saving on your utility bill each month. There aren’t any installations, site visits, or equipment necessary, and if you move, your savings will even move with you.
Zero-down Energy Efficient Products
Our pay-as-you-save energy program enables Washington utility customers to access energy efficient products for $0 down. We will offer LED light bulbs, Wiser Air Smart Thermostats, and other home energy products to help you be more efficient and save on your utility bills. As an Arcadia customer, you can simply pay for your efficient products over time using the energy savings you’ll start seeing each month.