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ReCharge
February 22, 2012

Legislation would scale back Washington renewable targets

Some Washington state lawmakers want to scale-back the state's voter-approved renewable energy targets in the name of reducing the burden on utility ratepayers at a time of continued high unemployment.

But renewable energy's backers say the Washington Energy Independence Act has helped attract $7.9bn of investment in the state, employing hundreds of people.

Washington lawmakers have proposed a bevy of bills that would significantly change the state's renewable energy mandate, which requires utilities to add renewables to serve 15% of their load by 2020.

The most dramatic changes would halve the state's renewable energy targets and allow utilities to count electricity from regional hydroelectric dams built before 1999.

Because Washington utilities typically get upwards of three-quarters of their electricity from legacy hydro generation, counting this toward the state renewable energy mandate would dramatically reduce demand for new renewables in the Evergreen State.

"While protecting the environment is of utmost importance, we must balance such regulation with the ability to maintain jobs and protect our economy," lawmakers say in the introduction to House Bill 1890, first introduced in 2011, and reintroduced in the current session. The bill notes that Washington's unemployment rate was 4.9% when voters approved the Energy Independence Act. It is now above 9%.

But the Renewable Northwest Project (RNP), a regional advocacy group representing renewable energy businesses and environmental groups, counts hundreds of jobs around Washington stemming from wind and solar equipment manufacturing and project development.

 

Read the entire article from ReCharge News at:

http://www.rechargenews.com/regions/north_america/article304431.ece

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