Republicans: Clean Energy Bill Will Cost

Majority Democrats in the state House of Representatives passed a so-called “Clean Energy Bill” Thursday that is another part of Governor Jay Inslee’s climate-change agenda. Legislative Republicans warned what the bill would actually clean . . . is your wallet. Washington House Republicans’ John Sattgast reports from the state Capitol.

SATTGAST: Senate Bill 5116 would require utilities to eliminate all coal-fired resources for generating electricity by 2025. . .and require all electricity supplied by utilities to be greenhouse gas neutral by 2030. The bill would also mandate all retail electricity generation to be 100 percent carbon free by 2045. Utilities that fail to meet the standards by those dates could face penalties.

Republicans, including 19th District Representative Jim Walsh of Aberdeen, say these mandates could make electricity prices soar.


WALSH:
“It’s going to have bad effects on the price that the people of Washington pay for this policy. It’s going to hit them in the pocketbook, primarily through their PUD or energy bills.”

SATTGAST:
Representative Matt Shea is the ranking Republican on the House Environment and Energy Committee.

SHEA: “Do we allow rates to go up and affect our low-income and working families? Or do we invest in a policy that keeps our rates low so our working families and our small businesses can develop, and all Washingtonians, regardless of what side of the Cascade crest they sit on, can be prosperous?”

SATTGAST: Earlier this year, Representative Richard DeBolt authored a different approach in a bill that would provide tax incentives to for utilities to transition to clean energy production, rather than penalties. On Thursday, DeBolt predicted the punitive Democratic plan could backfire.

DeBOLT: “Poverty causes pollution. And the more we tax people and the more we push on people instead of using carrots, but using the stick, the more people have to burn their woodstoves because they can’t afford the electricity, the more people drive older polluting cars.”

SATTGAST: The Chehalis Republican offered the language of his incentive bill as a substitute, but the amendment was rejected. The final bill passed 56 to 42, with one Democrat joining all Republicans in voting no. The measure now returns to the Senate for concurrence.

John Sattgast, Olympia.