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RNP Press Release
February 13, 2013

Advocates, Businesses and Citizens Call for More Solar Power

Olympia, WA – Despite its rainy reputation, Washington has a lot of solar potential, and today, the legislature took the first step to expanding consumer access to solar energy in the state. The House Environment Committee heard public testimony for a bill (HB 1106/SB 5707) that would make solar cheaper and more accessible to thousands of Washington homeowners, small businesses, nonprofits, schools and local governments.


HB 1106, introduced by Rep. John McCoy (D – Marysville), improves Washington’s net metering policy to include third party ownership, meaning that residents who wish to offset their electricity bills using solar would be able to lease or rent their solar panels without upfront capital costs. This has become the dominant model for financing residential solar across the nation, boosting solar installations to record levels, opening the market to middle income homeowners and injecting hundreds of millions of dollars into the economy.


“It’s the 21st century, and it’s time that we start getting more of our energy from the sun,” said Robb Krehbiel, Program Associate for Environment Washington. “We’d like to see the state install 150,000 roofs by 2020. This bill is the critical first step to achieving that goal.”


Added Michael O’Brien, Policy Associate with Renewable Northwest Project, who testified in favor of expanding solar in Washington, “HB 1106 is a smart choice for Washington- it’s good for renewable businesses and electricity consumers. Improving our net-metering policy is a positive step forward towards a clean energy future.”


Many Washingtonians are eager and ready to install solar, but the upfront cost is often the primary reason homeowners do not follow through. Said Pat Holm today at the hearing, a resident of Olympia, WA, “"This bill does three things at once:  saves me money, brings more jobs to our State, and most important, is good for our environment.  What's not to like about that?"


Many small businesses would also benefit from the bill helping increase access to solar energy. Said Jeremy Hardy, owner of Coastal Kitchen in Seattle, WA, “It is our position that we are obligated to run our business in a responsible manner including composting, recycling, and reducing waste and consumption wherever possible. Restaurants can be major consumers of all types of resources, especially electricity. With such an elegant solution as Solar already developed, it ought to be as within reach financially as hooking up cable or gas.”


With more customers able to access solar energy, local installers are expecting increases in their business. Zack Butler, VP of Global Green Energy Corps in Tumwater, WA stated, “We currently have over 1,000 people that are employed in Washington’s solar industry. Should this bill pass, we are optimistic this will help create job's in our state.”


This bill is also a part of a broader Clean Energy Solutions Priority supported by the Environmental Priorities Coalition. Together, the four parts of Clean Energy Solutions, will build our economy and create jobs that can’t be outsourced, while reducing the pollution responsible for global warming. The Environmental Priorities Coalition is a network of over twenty leading environmental groups in Washington State.


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Environment Washington is a statewide, citizen-based advocacy organization dedicated to clean air, clean water, and open space. For more information, please visit www.environmentwashington.org.


Renewable Northwest Project is a regional nonprofit advocacy organization promoting the expansion of environmentally responsible renewable energy resources in the Northwest. For more information, visit http://www.rnp.org/.

For more information contact:

Rob Krehbiel, Environment Washington: (206) 883-7401, rkrehbiel@environmentwashington.org


Amy Baird, Renewable Northwest Project: (503) 223-4544, amy@rnp.org

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