2015 legislative sessions challenging for Northwest clean energy advocates

Progress on clean and affordable energy met strong head winds in this year’s Northwest state legislatures. But we prevailed against yet more attempts to weaken or undo Washington renewable energy and energy efficiency standards law, Oregon’s public purpose charge and Montana’s renewable portfolio standard.

Gains were accomplished on Washington’s electric vehicle infrastructure, low-income assistance in Oregon and energy performance contracting in Montana. But defense – most of it successful – was the legislative order of the day across the region.

Here’s a state-by-state recap of the 2015 legislative sessions:

Washington clean energy advocates rebuffed yet more attacks on Initiative 937, the state’s hugely successful clean energy law. Some attacks came disguised as climate change solutions, even though I-937 has been and remains the state’s No. 1 means of meetings its climate pollution reduction goals.

Solar energy and building-related energy efficiency gains proved elusive, but the building code remained intact and electric vehicle infrastructure got a bipartisan boost.

In Oregon, the Coalition was active in opposing a nearly $15 million funding reduction for public purpose charge programs. Incremental progress was made on energy storage and development of solar incentives, and low-income bill assistance was extended.

Our Oregon partners are to be congratulated for winning reauthorization of the clean fuels program and for refusing to let that program be sacrificed to the transportation bill (as happened in Washington).

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock vetoed a bill (SB 114) that would have negated the state’s renewable portfolio standard by including all hydropower. In conjunction with the Montana Environmental Information Center and other allies, the Coalition successfully supported a Department of Environmental Quality bill updating criteria for energy performance contracting, an important energy efficiency strategy.

And the Coalition will be engaged in the interim committee study of net metering costs and benefits authorized by Senate Joint Resolution 12.

For a more complete review of our clean energy efforts in this year’s state legislatures, go here.

For more information, contact Wendy Gerlitz for Oregon, Joni Bosh and JJ McCoy for Washington, and Diego Rivas for Montana.