Each year, the NW Energy Coalition advocates at the state level for priority bills and funding to advance a clean, affordable, and equitable energy future. This year’s state legislative sessions are kicking off this month. See our priorities for Washington, Oregon, and Montana below.
Investments in Clean Energy and Building Retrofits
This year’s legislative session is a “long session” of 105 days, which is when the capital and operating budgets are passed. This year is the first one in which Climate Commitment Act revenue is available to fund climate projects. The NW Energy Coalition will be focusing our advocacy on ensuring these funds are allocated to projects with emission reduction impacts that also save customers money, such as weatherization, public building retrofits, heat pump incentives, and transportation incentives for medium and heavy-duty vehicles.
Energy siting and transmission
This year is shaping up to be an important one for discussions around clean energy siting and transmission. NW Energy Coalition will engage in efforts to define reforms to clean energy project review, identify siting opportunities that balance many stakeholder interests, accelerate and strengthen the permitting process, and diagnose the future need and current capability of the transmission system. Two bills of interest are HB 1216 and SB 5165.
The Washington Solar Energy Industries Association (WASEIA) has released its platform for the legislative session, which NW Energy Coalition supports. The platform includes proposals to raise the solar net metering threshold, increase project size limits, expand access to virtual net metering, transition to a value of solar compensation methodology, add consumer protections, and direct any excess net metering credits to low-income customers, Tribes, and nonprofits.
Preventing utility disconnections during high heat
The Attorney General’s Office has announced they will request a bill to prohibit water and energy utility disconnections during days expected to have very high temperatures, and reconnect customers who have been previously disconnected during these high-heat events. NW Energy Coalition supports this effort.
RE-Building Task Force
The RE-Building Task Force was established during last year’s legislative session by SB 1518. The task force has been hard at work to determine how to reduce emissions from new and existing buildings in the state. The task force released a draft report earlier in December. Bills will be developed from the concepts considered by the task force and will be introduced when the legislative session starts in January.
Clean Lighting Bill
Appliance Standard Awareness Project (ASAP) has proposed a bill to phase out the use of linear fluorescent lamps due to their mercury content. The bill would also result in energy savings and emissions reductions, and follows similar legislation recently adopted in California.
Energy efficiency resource standard
The 2021 energy efficiency resource standard bill, SB 292 carried by Sen. Chris Pope, passed the Senate Energy Committee but lost on a tie vote on the Senate floor 25-25. Sen. Pope will be bringing back the bill again this session in hopes of prioritizing energy efficiency as a go-to resource.
Electric vehicle charging standards
Currently, an electric vehicle service provider cannot collect payment by the kilowatt-hour to charge electric vehicles. The Coalition is working with Sen. Chris Pope to remove this statutory prohibition to allow for the most-common and fairest form of electric vehicle charging.
Other things to keep an eye on
Portland General Electric Securitization Bill
We expect Portland General Electric to propose a bill around securitization. A bill draft that was shared with NWEC seeks to allow a utility, with the approval of the Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC), to issue bonds and securitize debt for costs and expenses associated with events subject to federal or state declaration of emergency (think fires or ice storms). PGE has been discussing the issue with many stakeholders and we expect the bill to come up early in the session.
Oregon Siting Bill
As in Washington, there are many discussions in Oregon about clean energy siting. NW Energy Coalition has been, and will continue to, engage and assess any proposals that may arise from discussions.
Congress’s passage of the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will provide a massive amount of new funding to the state of Oregon. There will no doubt be many discussions about how to allocate those new federal funds.
Defense in Montana
In 2021, the legislature repealed the requirement for any new nuclear facility to receive public support via referendum. In the interim, the energy interim committee conducted a study of nuclear energy technology, though reached no consensus on how to move forward. With interest in utilizing the Colstrip Generating Station as a location for small modular reactors (SMRs), we expect the 2023 legislature to attempt to prop up the industry.
Colstrip has often dominated the energy committees in the Montana legislature over the last decade. We expect 2023 to be similar as the aging resource continues to be uneconomical and facing shutdown.
Rep. Steve Gunderson (R-Libby) has submitted paperwork to introduce a bill removing the right to a “clean and healthful” environment from Montana’s constitution. Furthermore, rumors continue to swirl that an attempt to eliminate the Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) will come forward.
Get in touch with our team
The Coalition looks forward to working with many of our member groups, individual members, and allies across the region to advance clean, affordable, and equitable policies in these state legislative sessions. If interested in collaborating with us, please reach out to our team or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to working with you!