OLYMPIA – The Washington House passed a measure Thursday that seeks to eliminate fossil fuels like natural gas and coal from the state’s electricity supply by 2045.
The measure – a key piece of Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee’s climate agenda – passed on a 56-42 vote. It passed the Senate last month on a 28-19 vote, on the same day that Inslee announced he was running for president. Because the bill was amended by the House, it heads back to the Senate for a final vote.
Democratic Rep. Gael Tarleton said many groups came together “to solve a huge problem” and she said the measure sets an example for other states in the region on a clean energy economy.
“I know that what we are doing is building a different future,” she said.
Inslee has been campaigning on the promise that if elected he will make addressing climate change the country’s top priority. Inslee heads to Iowa Friday to tour damage from recent flooding.
The clean energy bill is the centerpiece of a proposal he announced in December. Washington, which relies heavily on hydroelectric power, already generates more than 75 percent of its electricity from carbon-free sources. The measure would require utilities to eliminate coal as an energy source by the end of 2025 as the first step toward a goal to provide carbon-free electricity by 2045.
Existing hydroelectric power would count toward the goal, giving the state about 25 years to find carbon-free sources for the remaining 25 percent of its electricity needs.
The penalty for noncompliance would be $100 for each megawatt-hour, but could go higher depending on the type of source, with coal penalties the highest.
Republican Rep. Richard DeBolt expressed concerns about the reliability of the grid in such a system.
“I hope that we don’t have rolling brownouts,” he said. “I would hate to see Washington state enter into something that makes us less competitive, and less effective in the future and puts our resiliency on the line. Because that would be detrimental to all of us.”
California and Hawaii have both pledged to generate 100 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 204, and New York is considering a bill for that calls for generating 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2040.
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