Everyone wants to clean up the energy sector, but parties disagree on how | 2019 Legislative Session

OLYMPIA – Democrats and Republicans both want to turn Washington into a clean energy state, but they just don’t agree on how to do it.

House Bill 1211, proposed by Representative Gael Tarleton, D-Seattle, would require public utilities to provide all energy through non-emitting, renewable resources by 2045, or else face penalties.

House Bill 1266, proposed by Representative Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, would create incentives for public utility companies that invest in renewable energy.

“We shouldn’t pick winners and losers, we should set our priorities and have people choose our priorities,” DeBolt said. “Innovation for companies has always worked here.”

HB 1211 with 28 Democratic sponsors was filed at the request of Governor Jay Inslee, whose proposed biennium budget prioritizes a transition to clean energy. The bill phases out coal by 2025 and requires all electricity to be greenhouse gas neutral by 2030.

If an electric utility company isn’t generating all of its electricity using non-emitting energy resources in 2045, the company would face penalties. Under this bill, hydroelectricity is not included as a non-emitting resource.

According to Tarleton, the bill would ensure that the penalties are incurred by the company and not by ratepayers through raised energy prices. If the company has made a “good faith” effort to transition, the penalties can be reduced. Companies can also receive credit for investing in another sector to offset their emissions in the energy sector.

“Mine is setting in a schedule that you have to achieve, and if you are not able to achieve it by that date there are alternatives,” Tarleton said.

House Bill 1266, sponsored by Debolt and Rep. Drew Stokesbary, R-Auburn, would require utility companies to use clean energy to meet new customer needs starting in 2029, rather than imposing a complete transition.

The bill provides tax exemptions for reducing carbon emissions in buildings and gas transportation, allows utilities to use hydroelectricity as a clean energy resource, and allows the use of power purchased from Bonneville Power Administration. Both bills allow for the use of nuclear power.

Neither house bill has an executive session scheduled yet. HB 1211’s companion bill, Senate Bill 5116, had an executive session in the Senate Environment, Energy, and Technology Committee earlier, and senators will decide whether or not to pass the SB 5611 through committee.

Emma Scher is a reporter with the WNPA Olympia News Bureau.

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