Right Now in Energy
Bills the League Supports
SB 5000 Creating a hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle pilot sales and use tax exemption program. This bill is written to encourage purchase of such vehicles. Washington has the potential to use some of our green electricity to generate green hydrogen, a fuel attractive in vehicles requiring longer range and other features, and as a medium of energy storage when our generation capacity exceeds our demand. We must ensure that we encourage viability for all alternative fuel vehicles commensurate with their potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the near and long term. The bill passed the Senate Committee on Transportation on Feb. 11. The Senate Ways and Means Committee considered a second substitute bill, which passed unanimously on Feb. 22, then passed the Senate floor vote unanimously on March 3. It had a public hearing in the House Committee on Finance on March 15 where it passed in a 15-2 vote.
Status It passed the House Committee on Transportation on March 31, and is on the floor calendar for a vote.
Bills the League Supports That Passed
HB 1393: Delaying certain implementation dates for the photovoltaic module stewardship and take-back program. This bill enjoyed wide support in the House Committee on Environment and Energy and on the House floor where it passed 93-2.
Status Passed the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy, and Technology unanimously, and passed the Senate floor vote 45 to 4, so it now awaits the governor’s signature.
Bills the League Supports That Missed the Cutoff
HB 1046 Requires a program for the procurement of electricity from community solar projects by investor-owned utilities. This bill enables community solar projects can sell power to private utility companies and credit solar program participants. A similar bill (ESHB 2248) passed both chambers in 2020, but the governor declined to sign anticipating the financial challenges of the pandemic. HB 1046 includes less financial support of incentives and credits for community solar. A hearing was held on January 12 in the House Committee on Environment and Energy. It was scheduled for a vote in the House Committee on Environment and Energy on February 5, but no action was taken.
SB 5174 Providing for a producer responsibility program for recycling wind turbine blades. Most of the weight in these blades is a polymer-fiber composite, which is currently challenging to recycle. We might consider this bill a step to ensure our clean energy sources create no secondary damage to our environment. The public hearing in the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy and Technology occurred on Jan. 27. It passed a vote on February 3 by a bipartisan margin of 11-1. A substitute bill passed the Ways and Means Committee 19-6 on February 18. This bill stopped progress in the Senate Rules Committee and will not advance this session.
SB 5206 Eliminating expedited processing of an alternative energy resource facility fueled by solar energy on certain designated lands before the energy facility site evaluation council. This bill slows approval of converting farmland to solar array facilities to ensure careful consideration, therefore pits League positions for preserving farmland against positions to increase renewable energy. A group consideration recommended the farmland preservation edges out other considerations, but this one is close. A public hearing occurred in the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy, and Technology on January 27, but was not considered for a vote.
SB 5415 Revisions to the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council. Scheduled for public hearing in the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy, and Technology on February 9 and a vote was scheduled on Feb. 11, but no action was taken in the Senate Committee on Environment and Technology.
SB 5168 Renewable and non-emitting resources analysis and advisory opinions. Public hearing held in the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy and Technology on January 27, but no further action was taken.
SB 5244 Encouraging the production of advanced nuclear reactors, small modular reactors, and components through the Invest in Washington Act. Scheduled for public hearing in the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy and Technology on January 28, but no further action was taken.
How to Be Involved
The LWVUS Climate Team hosted a webinar on renewable energy presented by Martin Keller of the National Renewable Energy Lab. View recording of that webinar. You will need to sign in with your name and email, but these will be held only by the League.
Released at the end of December was the Washington 2021 State Energy Strategy by the Department of Commerce, an update to previous state energy strategies as required by legislative action. The strategy focuses on achieving decarbonization of our energy sources including transportation, electricity, buildings, and industry to achieve the objectives of the Clean Energy Transformation Act. Legislation this session and future sessions will begin implementing the strategy.