Washington state moves toward 100% clean energy

Source: Ines Kagubare, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, March 6, 2019

As Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) launches his bid to run for president on a climate change-focused platform, his state is moving toward achieving one of his big clean energy goals.

On Friday, the Washington Senate passed a bill that would require the state’s electric utilities to phase out coal-fired power by 2025 and transition to 100 percent carbon-neutral electricity by 2030.

The legislation, which passed by a vote of 28-19, is aimed at leading Washington to 100 percent clean energy by 2045.

“It’s simply time to move past the era of carbon into the next generation with modern, 21st-century energy systems using integrated wind, hydro and solar power,” said state Sen. Reuven Carlyle (D), lead sponsor of the bill and chairman of the state Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee, in a press release.

The bill is one of several ambitious pieces of climate legislation Washington Democrats have introduced to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the state’s electric and transportation sectors.

It’s also part of a package of measures Inslee outlined in a December climate action plan, shortly after Washington voters rejected a carbon tax ballot measure.

A separate bill aimed at eliminating hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs — potent greenhouse gases adopted as substitutes for ozone-depleting substances — passed the state House Friday by a vote of 55-39. HFCs are generally used in refrigerants and foam-blowing agents.

“Washington is taking the lead in transitioning away from these harmful gases because we cannot rely on the federal government to act on climate by regulating pollutants,” said House Environment Chairman Joe Fitzgibbon (D), who sponsored the HFC bill, in a statement.

The bill — also part of Inslee’s climate agenda — is headed to the state Senate for consideration, said a spokesperson for Fitzgibbon.

Washington would join California, Maryland, Connecticut and New York in moving away from HFCs, and California and Hawaii in transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy.

Another state House bill, also sponsored by Fitzgibbon, would require the transportation sector to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and gradually transition to hydropower or biofuels. The legislation would impose a 10 percent carbon reduction by 2028 and a 20 percent reduction by 2035.

Last week, state Sen. Steve Hobbs (D) introduced separate legislation to put in place a $15-per-metric-ton carbon fee on the transportation sector, which is expected to generate about $7.9 billion in revenue over the next 10 years. If the bill passes, Washington would be the first state to adopt a carbon tax by law.