Washington: State legislature doesn’t mess with I-937

The 2010 Washington state legislative session has finally ended. While results for environmental issues were mixed overall, defenders of the 2006 Clean Energy Initiative 937 were pleased that no changes were made to the law, which requires the state’s major electric utilities to get 15% of their power from new renewable resources by 2020 and capture all available cost-saving energy efficiency in their service territories.

A diverse group of stakeholders and legislators worked closely throughout the legislative session to identify reasonable changes that could be made to I-937 while still maintaining the strength and intent of the law. The key bills introduced to amend I-937 ultimately died with neither house taking action.

The Coalition and allies also warded off attempts to block adoption of state energy code improvements that will make new buildings about 15% more energy efficient than required by the current code. In addition, attempts to scale back tax incentives for renewable energy development were rebuffed.

The Coalition worked on a variety of other clean energy-related bills this session. A notable success was approval for sending Rep. Hans Dunshee’s public schools energy efficiency bill to a vote of the people the fall. Passing the referendum would allow the state to issue $505 million in general obligation bonds to reduce energy costs and create jobs by investing in capital improvements to public school, colleges and universities. A bill providing residents with convenient, free-of-charge recycling options for lighting equipment – such as CFLs – that contain mercury also became law.

Coalition-sponsored bills faring less well included the Energy Efficiency Financing Act, which would have provided consumers and business access to up-front, low-cost financing for energy efficiency, and the Energy Efficient TVs Act, which would have mandated tougher efficiency standards for new LCD and plasma TVs.