“Thurston Climate Action Team supports the introduction of legislation for 100% clean energy by 2030, as introduced by 350 Seattle in their November 21, 2018 letter to Rep. Tarleton, Sen. Ranker, Governor Inslee, and Legislators. TCAT further calls on our elected officials to prioritize science over deal-making in determining our state’s energy and climate policies”.
~ Bill Paulen, TCAT Board of Directors
Dear Rep. Tarleton, Sen. Ranker, Governor Inslee and Legislators,
As leaders in our communities concerned about the environmental impacts and economic consequences of our current energy practices, we urge you to back a rapid and steady transition to a clean energy economy powered by genuinely clean, renewable resources. Specifically, we are asking you to introduce 100% clean electricity legislation in Washington State that includes the following policy objectives:
- Ramps up efficiency, and wind and solar power development in the state. This bill presents us with the opportunity to increase clean, renewable energy generation in Washington and swiftly transition away from the dirty sources of energy that pollute our environment, jeopardize our health, cost us money, and threaten our national security. As we remove fossil fuel-based sources of energy from the grid, we must ensure they are replaced with truly clean sources of energy. We must prioritize efficiency first, then supply generation needs with wind and solar backed with storage.
- Sets a requirement that our grid is 100% clean by 2030. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, Global Warming of 1.5°C, states that holding to this target will require “changes that are more rapid and pronounced over the next two decades than in 2° C pathways.” (C2.1) Considering the level of climate chaos already unleashed at 1°C warming, from ravaging wildfires to devastating storms, we must move as rapidly as possible to reduce emissions to hold to the 1.5°C goal. With advances in wind, solar and storage, we can most readily do this in the power sector. We can’t wait until 2045 to have a clean, fossil-free grid. With nearly 70% hydropower and a 15% renewable energy standard, we are already close to 100%. A fully clean electricity grid by 2030 is well within our reach. Washington can and should be a leader and set a timeline to become a fossil-fuel-free grid by 2030. If we can’t do it, who can?
- Fully shuts the door on new fossil fuel resources It is essential that any 100% clean legislation explicitly rules out all new development of fossil fuel resources. Deploying more fossil fuel resources only digs the hole deeper. Any new fossil fuel generation on the grid, including gas, will take us backwards and undermine achieving 100% clean electricity. In addition, the fracked gas which constitutes much of Washington’s supply threatens water supplies and air quality in production regions, endangering indigenous and other disadvantaged populations, and has leakage rates that could well make fracked gas worse than coal in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Establishes interim benchmarks Taking into account the urgency of “rapid and pronounced” change, we need to take immediate steps to make the transition to 100% clean electricity, and therefore need to require that interim steps are enacted and enforced as part of any 100% clean legislation. A substantial 2025 reduction of fossil generation beyond that already in the pipeline from coal plant shutdowns should be required.
- Allows no loopholes We need strict targets and timelines, and policies that guarantee a swift transition to a clean electricity grid. Allowing loopholes such as alternative compliance schemes does not guarantee carbon reductions and undermines the swift transition that is needed and that the bill aims to achieve.
- Ensures equitable distribution of benefits from clean energy We can no longer operate by simplistic lowest cost formulas. Planning and resource acquisition must take into account equitable distribution of benefits and reduction of burdens to vulnerable populations and highly impacted communities, long-term and short-term public health and environmental benefits, costs, risks, and energy security and resiliency. Legislation should create an economic and environmental justice advisory panel to provide feedback on equity in planning and in energy assistance.
- Remedies regressive distribution of paying for our electric systems Only a small portion of the need for energy assistance for low and moderate-income households is being met. We need 100% of energy assistance needs met as we get to 100% clean. Legislation should require all utilities to create low-income energy assistance programs that meet all energy assistance needs through a systems benefits charge. Our reliance on dirty sources of energy like coal, oil and gas is harming our health and hurtling us toward catastrophic climate change. While solar and wind energy are growing rapidly, we are still not doing enough to protect our communities from harmful pollution and to ensure a safe, livable climate for future generations. We can have healthier, more vibrant communities and a livable future for kids growing up today, but to get there, we must transform the ways we produce and consume energy. That has to start with a commitment to 100% clean, renewable energy.Fortunately, there are great prospects for a major shift to clean and abundant renewable energy. Wind and solar are rapidly becoming the least-cost new generating resource. A growing number of cities, states, corporations, and institutions are setting their sights on 100% renewable energy targets. Scores of cities, including three in Washington – Spokane, Edmonds and Bellingham – as well as Whatcom County, have set 100% renewable energy targets. Nearly 100 major companies, including Starbucks and Microsoft, have established similar goals. California and Hawaii have laws requiring 100% clean electricity and a number of other states are now considering it. Despite considerable progress, we still have a long way to go. That is why we are calling for swift and meaningful action, consistent with the above policy objectives. With the federal government and powerful special interests working to increase our dependence on fossil fuels, Washington State must live up to its historic role as a clean energy leader. The state should commit to 100% clean electricity by 2030, no new fossil fuel resources, a steady ramp up of wind and solar, and short-term benchmarks for renewable energy that drive a swift transition to a clean grid.