By - Jim Vess

Washington clean energy plan ends coal-fired generation, looks to electrify transportation

Energize Weekly, December 19, 2018

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has unveiled a legislative package aimed at reducing the state’s carbon emissions by 25 percent over 1990 levels, led by phasing out fossil-fuel electricity generation by 2035.

The plan focuses in five initiatives: 100 percent clean energy by 2045, moving to electric transportation, a clean fuel standard, constructing energy efficient buildings and elimination of hydrofluorocarbons.

“We know what it will take to combat climate change and we should be confident in our ability to invent, create and build the technologies that will lead us to a healthier and more secure carbon-free future,” Inslee said in a statement. “Washingtonians are ready to see their elected leaders step up to prevent further harm to our forests, our air and our communities.”

The biggest reductions, an estimated 6 million metric tons of carbon, would come from closing fossil-fuel electric generation units. The plan would have the state end all coal-fired generation by 2025, reach carbon-neutral electricity in 2030 and eliminate all fossil fuels by 2045.

Inslee is also proposing a 40 percent increase in the state’s Clean Energy Fund to spur development of clean energy technology. In September, the program made $3.1 million in grant awards for energy projects from its revolving loan fund.

“We must transform the way we generate electricity by accelerating adoption of renewable energy sources. We’re in a race to move beyond fossil fuels and achieve a 100 percent clean grid,” Democratic State Rep. Gael Tarleton said. “It’s time to sprint.”

The proposed clean fuel standard, administered by the state Department of Ecology, would require fuel providers to cut total carbon intensity of fuels 10 percent by 2028 and 20 percent by 2035. The cleaner fuels would remove 1.7 million tons of emissions.

The Clean Buildings package would offer incentives for retrofitting buildings to improve energy efficiency, and upgrade building codes and standards to emphasize efficiency.

The legislature has set a goal to cut energy use in new buildings by 70 percent. The initiative would remove another 4.3 million tons of carbon emissions.

The governor is proposing a series of transportation actions as part of his operating and capital budgets, including funding to expand the state’s electric vehicle charging network, a conversion of Washington’s ferry fleet—the nation’s largest—to hybrid-electric and funding to continue development of an ultra-high-speed rail system from Portland to Vancouver, B.C.

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