In 2006, Washington voters passed Ballot Initiative 937 creating what was, at the time, the country’s second renewable energy standard (RES). The RES requires large utilities to obtain 15% of their electricity from renewables, excluding hydropower, by 2020. Hydro is excluded because it accounts for the largest percentage of the state’s electricity generation, and many geographic opportunities for large-scale hydro have already been developed.

But with utilities facing an interim target of 9% renewable energy next year, the Republican-backed Senate passed SB 5735. The bill, “Providing Incentives for Carbon Reduction Investments,” which was introduced by Senator Doug Ericksen, allows utilities to meet RES targets through carbon reduction investments, defined as those that support eligible projects or actions that reduce, prevent, or remove emissions of greenhouse gases.

An analysis of the bill’s text shows why the bill has failed to move forward in the Democrat-controlled House. One eligible project cited in the bill is investment in the installation of infrastructure that provides natural gas for motor vehicles. Another is investment in carbon sequestration, a failed technology endeavor that has recently been in the news due to the ballooning price tag of Southern Company’s Kemper power plant.

These eligible projects clearly would not produce more renewable electricity on Washington’s power grid. It should be no surprise that SB5735 exemplifies a disguised version of fossil fuel-funded ALEC’s agenda (to weaken clean energy policies).

On April 10, ALEC sent out its 35-day notification to members of the Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force for its May 15 meeting. That notification featured a model bill called, “Act Providing Incentives for Carbon Reduction Investments.” The similarities between the ALEC model bill and the bill introduced in the Washington Senate are striking.

Except from the ALEC model bill:

‘Carbon reduction investment’ means an investment in support of eligible projects or actions that reduce, prevent, or remove from the atmosphere the emissions of greenhouse gases in the state of {state}. An eligible project or action includes, but is not limited to, investment in or purchase of the emissions reductions attributable to the following: (a) conservation measures exceeding the avoided cost of power; (b) installation of electric vehicle chargers and related infrastructure; (c) installation of infrastructure to provide compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, and renewable natural gas for motor vehicles, locomotives, and marine vessels; (d) the fuel conversion of state ferries to liquefied natural gas; (e) demand side management of electricity consumption; (f) energy storage technologies; and (g) carbon sequestration programs…

For the purposes of complying with an annual target, one-half metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions reduced, prevented, or removed from the atmosphere is equal to the compliance equivalent of one renewable energy credit.

Excerpt from Washington SB 5735:

‘Carbon reduction investment’ means an investment in support of eligible projects or actions that reduce, prevent, or remove from the atmosphere the emissions of greenhouse gases in the state. An eligible project or action includes, but is not limited to, investment in or purchase of the emissions reductions attributable to the following: (a) Conservation measures exceeding the avoided cost of power as identified by the Pacific Northwest electric power and conservation planning council; (b) installation of electric vehicle chargers and related infrastructure; (c) installation of infrastructure to provide compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, and renewable natural gas for motor vehicles, locomotives, and marine vessels; (d) the fuel conversion of state ferries to liquefied natural gas; (e) demand side management of electricity consumption; (f) energy storage technologies; and (g) carbon sequestration programs…

For the purposes of complying with an annual target in (a) of this subsection, one-half metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions reduced, prevented, or removed from the atmosphere is equal to the compliance equivalent of one renewable energy credit.

The sponsor of the bill, Sen. Ericksen, is an ALEC member.

Weeks after the introduction of SB 5735, Heartland posted a blog by Alyssa Carducci, a freelance writer, explaining how the bill is designed to reduce the cost burden on customers. The blog includes quotes from Todd Myers, environmental director at the Washington Policy Center, which is a member of the State Policy Network and ALEC.

The bill is currently still alive, but only because Governor Jay Inslee has called for a 30-day special session for state lawmakers to pass a budget that will take effect July 1, 2015. The regular session ended in April.

It remains unknown which corporation, trade association, or front group brought the model bill to ALEC.

ALEC_Model_Bill_-_Washington_SB_5735

Posted by Energy and Policy Institute