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Press Release
January 25, 2006

Broad Alliance Files Energy Security Initiative for November Ballot

Congressman Jay Inslee, Earth Day Founder Denis Hayes Lead Effort

Olympia, WA – Today, a statewide coalition of farmers, labor, clean energy businesses and conservationists launched a campaign to place an Energy Security Initiative before Washington voters this November. Passage of the initiative would help protect electric consumers from volatile prices and grow our economy by requiring the state’s larger utilities to gradually increase the amount of new renewable resources (such as wind and solar) in their electricity supply to 15 percent by 2020. Those utilities also would be required to make the most of the low-cost energy conservation opportunities in their service areas.

 
Washington would join 20 other states and the District of Columbia whose citizens already benefit from similar policies.
 
“Homegrown energy for Washington is common sense. It’s time we use the abundant, clean natural resources we have right here at home,” said Congressman Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), who has united with Earth Day founder Denis Hayes to spearhead the initiative effort. “This initiative will have a positive economic benefit for Washington, creating local jobs and stabilizing electricity rates. As long as the federal government continues its head-in-the-sand approach to solving our energy problems, it’s up to us in Washington State to take the lead on energy.”
 
Former Bonneville Power Administrator Randy Hardy called the initiative “a reasonable and practical solution to our growing energy needs in the region. It builds on our renewable edge in the Northwest.”
 
The initiative ensures that Washington’s growing energy needs are met with energy efficiency and clean power, rather than economically risky and climate-disrupting fossil fuels such as coal. It requires the state’s largest utilities (those with 25,000 customers or more) to:
 
  • Pursue energy conservation programs whenever doing so would be cheaper than adding more power plants. Energy conservation technologies and programs include everything from efficient lighting to smart-energy controls and building retrofits. The region’s most respected energy forecasting agency (the Northwest Power and Conservation Council) says we can and should cover 50 percent of our new electric needs with energy efficiency, which can cost half as much as the electricity it replaces and relieves the pressure on already stressed power lines.
 
  • Meet the 15-percent standard for new renewables by 2020, with benchmarks in 2012 and 2016 to demonstrate progress.
 
To Ryan Donohue, a Dayton-area farmer who leases farmland to the Hopkins Ridge wind project, the Energy Security Initiative means new economic development opportunities for rural communities. “We go by the wind turbines everyday on our way to feed our cattle on the Tucannon River,” Donohue said. “We can count on the income from the project while still farming our land. This initiative means more wind projects in Washington, which is good for Columbia County and all of eastern Washington.”
 
Besides providing an often-critical extra income source for farmers who lease land for wind turbines, renewables projects bring such community-wide benefits as the $1.5 million in property tax the Stateline wind project paid to Walla Walla County in 2002.
 
The renewable energy and energy efficiency industries already provide more than 4,000 jobs in this state. The Energy Security Initiative would create thousands of additional skilled, family-wage jobs to strengthen Washington’s economy. Energy efficiency projects in homes, businesses, farms and factories mean jobs for engineers, designers, contractors and equipment production workers and salespeople, as well as plumbers, electricians and sheet metal workers. The Hopkins Ridge Wind Farm, built in 2005, brought about 300 construction jobs and 18 permanent jobs to Columbia County plus community-wide property tax revenues to the county.
 
NW Energy Coalition executive director Sara Patton noted Washingtonians’ overwhelming support for energy efficiency and new renewable resources. “Given the volatile prices and increasingly uncertain supplies of traditional energy resources, its high time we took full advantage of all the efficiency and varied renewable resources we have right here in Washington state and the region,” Patton said. “This initiative will propel us down that road.”
 
Hundreds of volunteers have already signed up to help gather the more than 300,000 signatures needed by June 30 to qualify for the November ballot. Information is available at the Washingtonians for Energy Security campaign office at 150 Nickerson St., #109, Seattle, WA 98109, (206) 283-3335.
 
# # #
For more information contact:
Bill LaBorde
WA for Energy Security
(253) 988-6085
 
Marc Krasnowsky
NW Energy Coalition
(206) 621-0094
 
Kathleen Casey
Sierra Club
(206) 356-2925
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