Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, announced plans on Wednesday to introduce a series of bills that create incentives for energy conservation.
The central bill in the plan offers alternatives to a voter-approved initiative requiring public utilities to boost the amount of energy obtained from renewable resources. Public utilities meet the requirements put in place by Initiative 937 by purchasing power from solar and wind sources. By 2020, 15 percent of energy must be purchased from these sources, according to the initiative.
Senate Bill 5735 would allow utilities to meet the targets through alternative measures, including installing electric vehicle chargers, paying for the conversion of ferries to liquefied natural gas and purchasing renewable energy credits from others.
The plan also includes other bills: (SB 5325) offering tax incentives for the creation of small modular nuclear reactors; (SB 5426) calling for bids for the conversion of ferries from diesel to liquefied natural gas; and (SB 5114) creating tax incentives for the purchases of alternative-fuel vehicles in commercial fleets.
Ericksen announced the plan at a press conference that featured senators Curtis King, R-Yakima; Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick; Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee; Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, and Maralyn Chase, D- Shoreline.
Ericksen said the plan’s main goal was to spur job creation, with reducing carbon emissions as an additional benefit. He said it was not a response to Gov. Jay Inslee‘s plan for carbon reductions, which was heard in the House last week.
“Is this a climate plan? No,” Ericksen said. “This is an energy plan for Washington state.”
However, Chase disagreed, saying she backed the plan because of the energy-saving incentives it puts on the table.
“The cheapest form of energy is conservation,” she said.
Chase also said the introduction of the bills are an opening to talk about all carbon reduction options, including cap and trade and incentives for helping consumers save energy.
“It also helps out low-income people and older people who are aging in place,” she said. “It allows utilities to do things like repairing their homes and putting insulation in.”
Ericksen said that the plan allows utilities to abide by the original I-937 mandates, and that the plan offers solutions to get at energy conservation.
“With the plan we’re putting forward… is how we deliver on that sooner, and not wait for a low-carbon fuel standard rule to get that done,” he said.
Senate Bill 5735 will be heard at the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment & Telecommunications on Thursday.
The press conference was taped by TVW: