Testimony in support of SB 5116, 100% Clean, Renewable Electricity
Bruce Speight, Environment Washington Director
Good morning. Chair Carlyle, 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 SB 5116, the 100% clean, renewable electricity bill, because 100% clean, renewable electricity is within our grasp, but strong public policies that support a rapid transition will be necessary.
In March 2017, for the first time ever, wind and solar produced 10 percent of America’s electricity. At the same time, the average American uses nearly 8 percent less energy than a decade ago, due in great part to improvements in energy efficiency. Utility-scale battery energy storage capacity in the U.S. grew 17-fold from 2008 to 2017, adding half of its total capacity in 2016 and 2017.
And there is this: between 2008 and 2017, U.S. wind and solar generation grew at an annual rate of 22 percent. If generation were to grow by 14 percent per year, or about two thirds of the past decade’s growth rate, wind and solar would produce enough electricity to meet all of our current electricity needs by 2035.
The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, Global Warming of 1.5°C, states that holding to this target will require “changes that are more rapid and pronounced over the next two decades.” (C2.1) 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 benchmarks 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.
Washington State and the country are seeing rapid renewable energy growth. To continue and accelerate the pace of change, we need your leadership. When the first Renewable Energy Standards were passed in the early 2000’s renewable energy technologies were nascent, but 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.
Achieving a future powered by clean, renewable energy will require bold commitments and equally bold action. The benefits are immense. The potential is clear. The time is now.