Renewable energy project will create 3,000 quality jobs, infuse $2 billion into rural WA economies
By MARK RIKER
(Oct. 25, 2023) — Just south of Yakima County, on the Washington/Oregon border, a major renewable energy project is moving closer to becoming a reality. The Goldendale Energy Storage Project is a key component to a sustainable energy future for the Pacific Northwest while creating high quality family wage jobs.
The proposed project would create 3,000 jobs — jobs that would offer competitive wages and safe working conditions, and prioritize local workers, thanks to an agreement with the Washington Building and Construction Trades Council. Furthermore, it would infuse over $2 billion into the economies of rural Washington.
This would be a landmark opportunity at any time. However, during this period of unequal economic benefit, a project of this magnitude is even more critical for supporting the economic vitality of workers and rural communities alike.
Washington state has lower electricity rates than other states because it produces a quarter of our nation’s hydroelectric power. Even so, families struggle to pay their electricity bills, with more than one-quarter of Washington residents living paycheck to paycheck. This shouldn’t be the case. Projects like Goldendale will help working families by providing career foundation jobs while also helping ensure stable energy prices in the future.
As Executive Secretary of the Washington Building and Construction Trades Council, which represents 80,000 construction workers statewide, it’s my job to foster a healthy business environment that supports meaningful jobs and careers,
apprenticeship opportunities, and living wages. And like so many other members of the labor community, I’m also committed to helping advance Washington’s nation-leading clean energy goals. There is no bigger opportunity in the state of Washington to achieve these dual goals than in Goldendale.
Composed of two reservoirs connected by an underground pipe, the Goldendale Energy Storage Project would act like a giant water battery. Using pumped storage technology, it would store excess renewable energy in a high-elevation reservoir and then release it to generate power when demand is highest. At maximum capacity, the project would produce 1,200 megawatts of clean electricity, or enough electricity to power about 500,000 homes.
Built to last a century or more, the Goldendale Project will benefit Washington residents and businesses for generations to come. This and other factors led Washington lawmakers to designate Goldendale as a “Project of Statewide Significance,” encouraging local governments and state agencies to expedite project approval.
As the project nears the end of a multi-year licensing process, it deserves our utmost attention and support. Once completed, it would serve as a shining example of how investment in reliable and safe renewable energy projects can make our rural communities stronger, our region cleaner, and our state more prosperous.
Mark Riker is the Executive Secretary for the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council. Learn more at WABuildingTrades.org.