Following through on the themes he struck at ACORE’s Renewable Energy Policy Forum in March, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee just signed one of the strongest clean energy laws in America.
With the governor’s signature, Washington becomes the fourth state in the nation to commit to a 100 percent carbon-free future, including first-movers Hawaii, California, and New Mexico. Additionally, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico also have 100 percent commitments.
Several other states have recently passed expanded clean energy standards, including New York, Maryland, Illinois and Nevada. However, Washington’s new law is among the strongest we’ve seen so far. It requires that state utilities:
- Can no longer source any power from coal by 2025. (Currently, coal provides 14 percent of the state’s electricity supply, mostly imported.)
- Must be 100 percent “carbon-neutral” by 2030. Up to 20 percent of that requirement can be met by purchasing Renewable Energy Credits (RECs); pursuing “Energy Transformation Projects” such as electric car infrastructure, weatherization, or biogas; or paying an “administrative penalty” of $100 per ton of carbon on any shortfall.
- Must be self-generating 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2045.
A rolling cap ensures costs to consumers can’t exceed two percent of the previous year’s electricity revenue. And the new law is winning praise from building and construction unions for good-paying jobs and apprenticeships that include local, women, minority, and veteran businesses and workers. These newly created opportunities come on top of the nearly 83,000 people already employed by the clean energy sector in Washington state.