NW Energy Coalition supports Clean Energy First Act in Olympia

HB1334 builds on the success of I-937, Washington’s Energy Independence Act

At a moment when it’s imperative that states take the lead in fighting climate change and promoting clean air and water, the NW Energy Coalition is joining five other groups in advancing the Clean Energy First Act (HB1334) in the Washington state legislature. HB1334, which is sponsored by Representative Gael Tarleton (D-36th district), will receive its first legislative hearing this coming Thursday, January 26, before the House Technology, Energy, and Economic Committee.

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The Clean Energy First Act creates a path toward a 100% clean energy electric grid in Washington by requiring electric utilities to first meet any new energy needs with clean, renewable resources including energy efficiency, demand response, wind, solar, and existing hydropower. Additional fossil fuel resources, specifically natural gas, would be permissible only if a utility can demonstrate that it cannot meet reliability standards using a portfolio of clean, renewable resources.

By prioritizing clean energy investments, the Clean Energy First Act enables Washington to maximize energy efficiency, further diversify its clean renewable resource mix, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and provide reliable and affordable electricity to customers.  In that way, the Clean Energy First Act builds on the success of I-937, Washington’s Energy Independence Act first passed by voters in 2006.

That law required Washington utilities to generate 15% of their electricity from new eligible renewable energy, such as wind and solar, by 2020 and to invest in all cost-effective energy efficiency. Contrary to predictions that I-937 would raise electric rates and cost jobs, the Washington economy in general and the clean energy and energy efficiency sectors in particular have boomed since passage, generating billions of dollars in investment and thousands of jobs.

At the same time, Washington’s average retail price for electricity rose by less than the rate of inflation in the eight years after I-937 was enacted enabling the state to go from having the seventh lowest average retail rate in the nation to the second lowest.

“I-937 proved that good energy and environmental policy complements markets and accelerates economic growth rather than impedes them,” observed Nancy Hirsh, NW Energy Coalition executive director. “The direction led by I-937 helped spur the growth of new industries in the areas of energy efficiency, wind, and solar.”

“By 2020, all of the goals set out by I-937 will have been achieved, which is why now is the perfect time to keep the progress going by passing the Clean Energy First Act.”

The NW Energy Coalition is joined in supporting HB1334 by Climate Solutions, Renewable Northwest, the Sierra Club, Washington Conservation Voters, and by the Washington Environmental Council.

Also sponsoring HB1334 are representatives Joe Fitzgibbon (D-34th district), Jake Fey (D-27th district), Gerry Pollet (D-46th district) , Zack Hudgins (D-11th district), and Beth Doglio (D-22nd district).