Olympia Legislative Report, February 8, 2013

Washington Clean Tech Alliance

Prepared by:  Boswell Consulting

There were several hearings regarding initiative 937 this week. The Senate majority coalition has indicated a desire to make substantial changes to the Initiative.  On Wednesday, Senator Ericksen, chair of the Energy, Environment and Telecommunications committee said that “any time you create an artificial energy market [like the one Initiative 937 created], the legislature has to come in and change it to make the market usable for the people of Washington.”  With both the House and the Governor signaling opposition to the major changes being proposed by the Senate it is still unclear if any reforms will gain momentum this year.  The Senate Energy and Environment Committee also held a work session this week on the Challenges and opportunities of wind power. The following are some of the 937 reform bills that were discussed this week.

  • SB 5297: Amending an Alternative Compliance Method in I-937 to Allow the Use of Coal Transition Power.  This legislation would primarily benefit the Centralia coal-powered electric plant as it transitions away from coal.  The environmental community testified that the bill does not meet I-937’s goals because coal power is not considered a renewable power source.
  • SB 5412: An act relating to adding incremental hydroelectricity that is marketed by the Bonneville power administration to the definition of an eligible renewable resource. Sponsored by Senators Ericksen several utilities expressed support for this legislation however the environmental community express concerns about further weakening I-937 and the market for new renewable energy.

The conversations around energy innovation and I-937 continue next week in the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee with two controversial bills and work sessions on Western Washington University’s role in growing the energy economy in Washington State and examining issue related to forest biomass.

The following I-937 bill will be heard on Tuesday February 12th at 1:30:

  • SB 5438 Using conservation achieved by a qualifying utility in excess of its biennial acquisition target under the energy independence act which would allow a qualifying utility to use conservation as a mechanism to meet their compliance obligations under I-937. http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?year=2013&bill=5438
  • SB 5648 Making energy conservation a top priority by adding new incentives and aligning the timing of the acquisitions of eligible renewable resources, electricity, or equivalent renewable energy credits, with the need for additional electric generating resources to serve consumers’ loads, without changing the eligible renewable targets. http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?year=2013&bill=5648

Both of these are bills that seek to address how and when a utility must meet its compliance obligation for the purchase of renewable energy.  They are expected to both be very controversial and will draw strong opposition from both the environmental community and some utilities that have already made significant investment in renewable energy projects.

The full report including Bill Tracking can be found here.