Regulators direct utilities to consider carbon emission cost

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington state regulators stepped up their activism on the climate front by telling three utilities to reconsider the carbon-emission costs of producing electricity from coal and other fossil fuels.

The Seattle Times reports that the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission directives were sent to Puget Sound Energy, Avista Corp and Pacific Power.

The agencies collectively serve more than 1.47 million state customers from a mix of coal, natural gas and renewable power.

The commission asks the utilities to assign a hefty cost to carbon emissions, a pollution source that scientists say is driving climate change.

This would be for planning purposes, and not used to try to justify higher rates.

But the accounting would bolster the financial case for the utilities to hasten their planned exit from the Colstrip Generating Plant, a major Montana coal plant in which each as an ownership stake.