Statement of Bruce Speight, Environment Washington Director
Testimony in support of HB 1211, 100% Clean, Renewable Electricity
Bruce Speight, Environment Washington Director
Good afternoon. Chair Fitzgibbon, members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. My name is Bruce Speight and I am the Director of Environment Washington, a statewide, membership-based environmental advocacy organization.
I am here today in support of HB 1211, the 100% clean, renewable electricity bill, and urge you to back a rapid and steady transition to a clean energy economy powered by genuinely clean, renewable resources.
I have two simple messages today: 1. if past is prologue, then we have every reason to believe that an aggressive 100% clean energy standard will only serve to benefit communities, consumers and our environment. And 2. Strong interim targets by 2025 and 2030 are critical to drive the short-term transition that we need and must achieve.
When the first Renewable Energy Standards were passed in the early 2000’s skeptics argued that such standards were not feasible, would be costly and unreliable. Proponents argued that standards would drive change with positive outcomes. Wind turbines and solar panels were novelties ten years ago; today they are everyday parts of our energy landscape. In March 2017, for the first time ever, wind and solar produced 10 percent of America’s electricity, and there is no question that those policies contributed significantly to the technological innovation and growth in renewables that we are seeing today. Today is no different – we need your foresight, vision and leadership to take us to the next level – 100% clean electricity.
I will provide for the committee testimony submitted by the Blue Planet Foundation who, in 2015, led the grassroots campaign to make Hawaii the first state in the nation to set a requirement for 100% renewable energy. If their experience provides any lesson for Washington and other states, it is that strong public policy can have positive outcomes in a number of ways. As they state in their testimony, “Hawaii’s 100% renewable energy law is showing how ambitious clean energy targets can save billions of dollars; reduce greenhouse gas emissions; increase energy and economic security; send strong market signals; and help utility companies thrive and create new approaches to value creation.”
Considering the level of climate chaos already unleashed at 1°C warming, from ravaging wildfires to devastating storms, we must move as rapidly as possible to reduce emissions.
In other words, what we do in the next few years, not in 20 years, is what matters. That’s why strong short-term targets are critical to making this bill meaningful. At the very least, we need to ensure that the provisions to eliminate coal on the grid by 2025 and to require utilities to be 80% percent clean by 2030 remain in the bill, and if anything, that they are strengthened not weakened.
Our reliance on dirty sources of energy like coal, oil and gas is harming our health and hurtling us toward catastrophic climate change. While solar and wind energy are growing rapidly, we are still not doing enough to protect our communities from harmful pollution and to ensure a safe, livable climate for future generations. We can have healthier, more vibrant communities and a livable future for kids growing up today, but to get there, we must transform the ways we produce and consume energy. That has to start with a commitment to 100% clean, renewable energy and the passage of HB 1211.