Sen. Carlyle hits the gas on renewable energy bill | 2019 Legislative Session


WNPA Olympia News Bureau

OLYMPIA – A bill to transition Washington into a state that runs entirely on renewable energy will go to the Senate floor if Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle gets his wish.

He wants Senate Bill 5116 to start moving forward this week.

If passed, Washington state would transition to a completely renewable-energy economy, requiring each electric utility to provide 100 percent of its electricity services using non-polluting, renewable resources by 2045.

“I’m optimistic. These discussions have been underway for two years; this goes that final step. There’s no reason that we can’t embrace a fully renewable electrical system,” said Sen. Carlyle. “It’s an operational issue, not an ideological one.”

A preliminary fiscal note anticipates implementation to cost taxpayers $3.3 million by 2025, when electric utility companies would be required to end the use of energy from coal. By 2025, the Department of Revenue would stop collecting over $9.3 million in penalties due to an extended sales tax exemption on energy-related equipment, according to the Office of Financial Management.

The state Financial Management agency is still waiting to hear back from the state Attorney General’s Office and the departments of Health, Ecology, and Enterprise Services on their respective fiscal impacts.

The bill was aired publicly at a hearing last Thursday. Some testimony called for provisions that would benefit low-income families, a group that is often disproportionately affected by climate policy, according to the most recent National Climate Assessment.

Carlyle also acknowledged concern from rural areas about the ability of small hydroelectric plants to succeed.

“It’s critical to include components addressing the needs of low-income, underserved, and frontline communities,” said Shawn Collins, director of the Opportunity Council’s Energy Project. “These communities have and will continue to be disproportionately impacted by the negative effects the energy policy decisions create.”

According to US News, Washington state ranks second in renewable energy use, second only to Oregon. The House environment and energy committee was scheduled to hear public comment on a companion bill on Tuesday, Jan. 22.

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