Bill would help get Tacoma chemical plant up and running again

The Pioneer chemical plant in Tacoma, idled for the last two years because power prices went through the roof, might get new life in legislation approved by the House of Representatives very early this morning.

State Rep. Steve Kirby (D-Tacoma) prime-sponsored the plan – House Bill 2518 – “to help the company reopen and provide a family-wage paycheck for as many as 85 people.”

Kirby explained that the legislation establishes an exemption from the state public-utility tax on the sale of electricity to an electrolytic processing business – an exemption the Tacoma firm needs to match its industry rivals.

“The point is that this bill is about getting good people back on the job,” he said. “It’s about getting a good business rolling again.”

The Tacoma lawmaker is a member of the House Technology, Telecommunications & Energy Committee, where the bipartisan measure was first considered earlier this year.

“Electricity takes up a huge part of the operating costs for a plant like Pioneer,” Kirby noted. “Many of their competitors around North America already escape the public-utility tax that this legislation would exempt Pioneer from having to pay.”

He continued: “In the Northwest, power costs more than it does in other parts of the world. It just makes sense for the Legislature to write policy that keeps our state competitive with other states – and with the rest of the world.”
Kirby’s legislation, which the House passed, 88-5, now goes to the Senate for further consideration.