Inslee Visits Eastern Washington to Support Wildfire Recovery, Clean Energy


COLUMBIA BASIN — Washington State Governor Jay Inslee spent Wednesday on the East side of the Cascades in Moses Lake and Ritzville to talk about renewable energy and wildlife conservation.

"We need to have confidence in ourselves that we can replace dirty fossil fuels with clean energy," said Inslee.

Inslee said he is working to ensure Washingtonians understand that clean energy is possible and needed.

Inslee's first stop of the day was at the Black Rock Coulee Public Access area northeast of Moses Lake.

There, he met with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife staff members to discuss the Washington State Restoration and Resiliency Initiative which seeks to restore sagebrush and pygmy rabbit recovery work.

"We just want to express how appreciative we are of this opportunity and the time we had with the governor. (We) are really excited about the initiative work and some of that work is already on the ground already being completed. And we're just really excited about what that's going to mean for the future of shrubsteppe in Washington," said Brock Hoenes, WDFW North Central Region Director.

Hoenes said that the Washington State Restoration and Resiliency Initiative will provide resources for habitat restoration, species recovery action and support for the working lands that are affected by wildfires, including the fires from last summer which often put smoke in the air across much of the state.

"That's the short-term benefits, just boots on the groundwork that's going to come out of that initiative. The long-term strategy for that initiative is to develop policy recommendations that are going to increase the overall resiliency of these landscapes to fire," Hoenes said.

Later in the day, Inslee attended the Rattlesnake Flat Wind Farm celebration just outside of Ritzville.

The Rattlesnake Flats Wind Farm project was built in 2020 and has 57 wind turbines that average 2.8 megawatts for a total of 160 megawatts through the project, according to Managing Director of U.S. Wind Development for Clearway Ben Fairbanks.

Fairbanks said that energy is enough to power 38,000 Avista customers.

The population of Adams County, where the windfarm is located, is about 20,600 according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The celebration, according to Fairbanks, was to recognize the benefits of renewable energy as well as participate in Earth Week. He said he was one of the first developers to start the wind farm project more than 10 years ago.

"First off, I wanted to show the respect for the community and the work that they've done. A project like this takes so many people working together, the county commissioners, the unions, the site planners, the State of Washington," Inslee said on why it is important to come out to projects like these in person. "Number two, everytime that we can show a success like this, it gives courage and ambition to other people to follow it."