May 13, 2019
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REC Silicon shutting down production due to trade war

With the U.S.-China trade war hitting hard, REC Silicon will end production of its solar-grade polysilicon in Moses Lake this Wednesday. The company will keep its employees on staff for another six weeks, but if Chinese retaliatory tariffs continue, the company will lay off most of its 150 workers and mothball the facility at the end of June.

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AWB joins listening session tonight about dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers

U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse is holding a listening session tonight in Richland about the impact and future of the hydroelectric dams on the Columbia-Snake River System. Gary Chandler, AWB's vice president for government affairs, is attending tonight's event.

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'Easier than buying a house': SBA lending rule changes help small business acquisition

Changes in Small Business Administration rules are making it easier for buyers to acquire a business, as loan terms increase to 25 years from previous limit of 10 years.

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Registration open to Annual Energy Conference, to be held June 5-6 at Skamania Lodge

The Northwest Gas Association (NWGA) and Alliance of Western Energy Consumers (AWEC) are hosting the 2019 Annual Energy Conference June 5-6 at Skamania Lodge in Stevenson. Registration is now open.

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Applications open for Don C. Brunell Scholarships

There is still time for the children or grandchildren of AWB members to apply for the 2019 Don C. Brunell Scholarship for Future Leaders. The scholarship, in honor of AWB's longtime former president, can fund up to $2,000 for students attending undergraduate, graduate or career/vocational programs.

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AWB's HealthChoice plan includes access to meQuilibrium, a personalized resilience-building program

The AWB HealthChoice plan provides access to high-quality medical benefits -- and much more. One of the programs included in HealthChoice is a personalized and confidential resilience-building program called meQuilibrium.

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100% Clean Energy Bill


Washington state's new carbon-free law sounds dandy. Making it work will be daunting

By Bill Virgin

SB 5116 is a dog's breakfast of a bill, an unappetizing hash of the latest political realities, enviro fads and opportunities to award favored groups. If, for example, you're in the business of writing or interpreting rules and regs generated by 5116, or consulting on how to comply with or take advantage of said verbiage, Christmas came early for you and will keep coming from now to 2030 and to 2045.

The laborious, painstaking and often frustrating work of building, testing and refining the technologies that will make the glories of a carbon-free grid possible (never mind whether that prospect is desirable) won't be cheap, either. But without it, the next-generation electric grid doesn't happen.

People won't be happy when they learn, in 2030 or 2045, they've shelled out a lot of money to wind up with a developing nation's power grid. We're accustomed to having electricity available when and where we want it; it's what makes our comfortable lives possible. And it's something we know how to build and run. If we need more power, we can build a big central generating station, powered by cheap and plentiful natural gas, plug it into the grid and be done with it.

What we don't have, and what we'll need places like Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland to build, is a grid smart, fast and resilient enough to handle tens of thousands of generating stations (as small as a residential solar panel and battery array or as big as wind-turbine farm) adding to and dropping off the system at a moment's notice, all the while fending off the cybervandals and cybersaboteurs, who will have tens of thousands of additional points of entry to exploit. We're not there yet...

Read the full column in The News Tribune
Midnight Spending


In Our View: State budget process in need of transparency

By The Columbian Editorial Board

Keeping up with the Legislature can be daunting for citizens interested in performing their civic duty by paying attention to the goings on in Olympia. That is particularly true when it comes to the budget, which typically is kept under wraps until the final days of the session.

That brings up the crux of this editorial: Legislative leaders should adjust how they do business, providing more transparency and more debate and more public engagement. Passing spending bills in the dark of night during the final days of the session is no way to run state government.

Yet that is what happened this year. In the end, lawmakers passed a dizzying array of tax increases in putting together the largest budget in state history. Despite a surge in state revenue created by a strong economy, the Legislature was unable to live within its means. The two-year budget, which goes into effect later this year, represents an 18 percent increase in spending over the current biennium.

Much of that increase goes to increases in salaries and benefits for public employees, whose contracts are negotiated between unions and the governor's office before being sent to the Legislature for either an up-or-down vote. As The Columbian has argued editorially in the past, the public should be kept abreast of offers and counteroffers during negotiations with the unions. After all, it is our money that is on the table...

Read the full editorial in The Columbian
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