Washington State is preparing to take an exciting step forward – toward securing clean energy sources for its citizens. Washingtonians for Energy Security, a broad coalition of businesses, environmental and labor organizations and concerned citizens, has launched an initiative for the November 2006 ballot. The initiative will help the state’s economy, environment, and rural communities by assuring electric utilities implement energy efficiency measures and purchase 15% of their power from clean and renewable resources by 2020.
Benefits of Clean Energy
Health and the Environment
Facing increased natural gas prices and prohibitive capital costs for new hydro and nuclear facilities, many utilities are considering new coal plants. According to the EPA, burning fossil fuels to generate electricity accounts for 69% of all sulfur dioxide emissions, 40% of carbon dioxide, 33% of mercury, 22% of nitrogen oxides, and 8% of particulate matter. Renewable generation creates little if any waste and spares the region’s limited water supplies. Clean energy resources are the only economically and technologically viable alternatives to major expansion in coal-fired power.
Rural Economic Development
Renewable projects boost tax revenues in often-economically distressed rural counties. Wind farms provide farmers and ranchers a vital second income -- upwards of $5,000 per year for each turbine on their land. Washington has been a leader in clean energy technologies and entrepreneurship, employing more than 4000 people -- expanding the in-state market for smart energy will bolster efforts at attracting new companies and venture capital to the state.
Energy efficiency measures reduce the need to buy additional, more expensive electricity. Most renewable energy needs no fuel, which produces long-term price stability. Greater diversity is particularly important in Washington, which relies heavily on drought-susceptible hydro resources. In addition, the price run-ups of the 2001 energy crisis dramatically demonstrate the danger of our over reliance on volatile fossil fuels.
Why an Energy Security Initiative is Necessary
The only sure way to deter increased use of fossil fuels is to require utilities to meet new power needs with efficiency and renewable energy. Twenty other states and Washington, D.C., have similiar standards, including a renewable portfolio standard passed by ballot initiative in Colorado in 2004. As these states have demonstrated, standards prompt utilities and state and local governments to overcome barriers. Several years of effort in the Washington Legislature have yielded little progress in improving Washington’s energy security – it’s time to take it to the people.
For more information contact:
Washingtonians for Energy Security
I sincerely hope that everyone who is concerned about the current state of our energy situation in this state and in the country (from whatever point of view you may approach it) will help to make this positive step a reality by volunteering to gather signatures or contributing in any way you can.
Chad (The Left) Shue