Measure broadens state renewable energy law

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SEATTLE (AP) -- Gov. Chris Gregoire has signed a bill that for the first time broadens the definition of renewable energy.

The bill makes energy produced from older biomass facilities, such as pulp mills, eligible toward the state's clean energy mandate. Supporters say it will benefit rural communities and a struggling timber industry.

Since voters approved Initiative 937 in 2006, there have been numerous attempts to change it. I-937 requires the state's largest utilities to ramp up to getting 15 percent of its power through wind, solar and certain woody biomass by 2020.

Under Senate Bill 5575, biomass energy produced onsite by pulp mills will count toward I-937, starting in 2016. The byproduct of the pulping or wood manufacturing process and yard and food waste will also count.