EFSEC was created in 1970 to provide "one stop" siting and permitting for large energy projects. By establishing the Council, the state legislature centralized the evaluation and oversight of large energy facilities within one state agency. The legislature cited the necessity of balancing the need for new energy facilities with the broad interests of the public. As part of the balancing process, the Council must take into account protection of environmental quality, the safety of energy facilities, and concern for energy availability.
The Council's responsibilities are listed in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 80.50. These responsibilities include siting large natural gas and oil pipelines, thermal electric power plants that are 350 megawatts or greater and their dedicated transmission lines, new oil refineries or large expansions of existing facilities, and underground natural gas storage fields. Energy facilities of any size that exclusively use alternative energy resources (wind, solar, geothermal, landfill gas, wave or tidal action, or biomass energy) can opt-in to the EFSEC review and certification process as with certain electrical transmission lines. EFSEC's authority does not extend to hydropower plants or thermal electric plants that are less than 350 megawatts.
For facilities under its jurisdiction, EFSEC has been delegated authority by the Unites States Environmental Protection Agency to issue permits under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and the Federal Clean Air Act. EFSEC also ensures that effective and coordinated nuclear emergency response plans are in place and satisfactorily tested for the Columbia Generating Station nuclear power plant located on the Hanford Site in central Washington.
EFSEC maintains independence in exercising its powers, functions, and duties. The Utilities Transportation Commission provides administrative and staff support to the Council. EFSEC staff contact information is as follows
Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council
621 Woodland Square Loop SE
PO Box 43172
Olympia, WA 98504-3172
2018 Strategic and Policy Review
Submitted to Governor Inslee on March 28, 2019.