Executive Board Caucus Report Highlights — July 21, 2011

Each month, we post the updates to our Exec Board from the state and provincial caucus reports…

British Columbia:

BC carbon tax popular, working

The Economist newspaper reports that B.C.’s carbon tax has proved popular in the province. Its article notes:
An Environics poll showing 54% of B.C. residents support that tax and a recent Pembina Institute poll showing that 70% think the province should be a leader in cutting emissions.
The evaluation by University of Ottawa professor Stewart Elgie that “The carbon tax has been good for the environment, good for taxpayers and it hasn’t hurt the economy.”
A 4.5% per capita reduction in fuel use since 2008.

The tax has risen in increments to the current C$25 per metric ton (“tonne”) of CO2, with proceeds used to lower individual and business income taxes.

Report from Coalition staff
For more information on the BC Caucus report,
contact Marc Krasnowsky: marc (at) nwenergy (dot) org


Avista request alarms clean energy supporters

Clean energy advocates are concerned about Avista Utilities’ recent request for permission to lower the electricity and natural gas efficiency riders paid by the company’s Idaho customers. Avista asked the Idaho Public Utilities Commission to lower the electric rider from 0.258 cents to 0.252 cents per kilowatt-hour and the natural gas rider from 5.7 cents to 1.9 cents per therm beginning Aug. 1. Funds from those riders pay for around 30 efficiency programs that last year saved nearly 70,000 kWh of electricity and 1.9 million therms of natural gas. Clean energy supporters note that Avista appears to have based its reduction request on just one year of surplus funding.

Meanwhile, the state’s 2007 energy plan is up for its five-year review. The Boise-based Snake River Alliance has done its own assessment of the plan and produced a progress report, including recommendations for moving forward, for the legislature’s Interim Energy, Environment and Technology Committee. It can be downloaded here. http://snakeriveralliance.org/Portals/2/documents/Idaho%20Energy%20Plan%20Review_Snake%20River%20Alliance_July%202011_2.pdf

For more information on the Idaho Caucus report,
contact Ken Miller: kmiller (at) snakeriveralliance (dot) org


More condemnations filed against landowners on MATL route

The developer of the Montana Alberta Tie Line (MATL) transmission project has invoked the state’s new eminent domain law in condemnation filings against 33 more Montana landowners, bringing the total at least 44. Canada-based Tonbridge Power Inc. has been unable to negotiate for all the easements it needs to build the 215-mile line, and construction is in hiatus until all easements and additional funding are secured.

At least 11 landowners previously served with condemnation papers are contesting the constitutionality of the eminent domain law, HB 198. The 230-volt MATL line will run from Lethbridge, Alberta, to Great Falls, Mont., and has been promoted as necessary for developing Montana’s wind-energy potential.

For more information on the Montana Caucus report,
contact Chuck Magraw: c.magraw (at) bresnan (dot) net


Boardman coal-plant pollution lawsuit settled

The Sierra Club and its co-plaintiffs have settled their Clean Air Act lawsuit with Boardman coal plant owner Portland General Electric. PGE — also a NW Energy Coalition member – has agreed to provide $2.5 million to fund habitat protection/environmental restoration projects, as well as local clean energy air pollution reduction efforts. (The NW Energy Coalition was not a party to the lawsuit.)

The settlement incorporates the pollution-control framework of last year’s agreement to transition the Boardman plant off of coal by 2020. For more information, go here.

Check out the Citizens’ Utility Board of Oregon’s news feed/blog. Recent posts have addressed shale gas development, biomass energy and the smart grid.

Report from Coalition staff
For more information on the Oregon caucus report,
contact Wendy Gerlitz: wendy (at) nwenergy (dot) org


Legislative committee takes up I-937

The House Environment Committee scheduled a July 26 work session on the state’s Clean Energy Initiative, I-937. In preparation for potential action during the 2012 legislative session, committee chair Rep. Dave Upthegrove (D-Des Moines) called on several stakeholders including NW Energy Coalition and Renewable Northwest Project to present testimony on the voter-approved law requiring the state’s largest electric utility to acquire all available bill-reducing energy efficiency and increasing amounts of new, clean renewable generation. Executive director Sara Patton represented the Coalition.

Report from Coalition staff
For more information on the Washington caucus report,
contact Lynne Dial: lynne (at) nwenergy (dot) org