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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

March 12, 2009 at 4:00 PM

I-937: the Clean Energy Initiative



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Jackie Johnston, Associated Press

Wind turbines near Kittitas, Wash., are shown in this Dec. 8, 2006, file photo. As climate change looms larger in the nation’s future energy plans, wind and other sources of alternative electrical power are getting a closer look.

A recession remedy: renewable energy with stable costs

Editor, The Times:

Leave it to The Times to make it seem like we can’t afford to implement the voter-approved Initiative 937 in this time of economic hardship [“Bill would ease energy targets for state utilities,” Local News, March 2]. Give me a break!

This is exactly the time we should be implementing it, since it calls for the creation of new jobs by investing in our communities to get our energy from renewable sources. Renewable-energy development would not raise energy rates here or in other states with renewable standards.

Stable costs are a hallmark of renewable energy because the fuel is free and domestic. Continuing to get our energy from hydropower or bringing in renewable energy from further away creates no jobs here.

Scaring people by skewing the facts seems to be the typical conservative approach to prevent any kind of positive change from happening.

— Gayle Janzen, Seattle

SB 5840 nullifies progress toward a renewable-energy future

Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, misses the big picture by supporting Senate Bill 5840 to roll back our Clean Energy Initiative [“We can be green and protect ratepayers,” guest column, March 9].

First, we voted for I-937 to encourage investment in new, renewable energy sources made here in Washington state. Now, Brown wants to grandfather in existing hydropower, nullifying any progress 937 makes toward our renewable-energy future.

Naming an existing power source as a new project eliminates incentives for new investments and jobs in Washington state’s emerging clean-energy sector. Our Senate majority leader should not abuse hydro to water down a popular initiative.

And more than compromising the public’s initiative, Brown’s SB 5840 shirks solutions to climate change and fossil-fuel dependence. Brown should be taking the lead to support I-937 and Gov. Christine Gregoire’s legislation to cap and lower global-warming pollution.

These standards would earn Washington state investment and jobs, not to mention an important seat at the table crafting a national cap-and-trade program.

Future generations deserve Washington state’s opportunity in the governor’s cap-and-trade legislation.

Fresh out of college, I’m one of the millennial generation inheriting economic stagnation and a climate crisis, all of which I will have to pay for over time. At such a crossroads, we need true climate and economic leadership. Brown must not slash at both by diluting our Clean Energy Initiative and orphaning the governor’s cap-and-trade legislation.

— Bonnie Hemphill, Seattle

Free and local fuel to lower taxes and create jobs

When I read Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown’s guest column on Initiative 937, the voter-backed people’s initiative setting renewable-energy standards for our state, I was astonished. It was as if she hadn’t read the legislation.

She calls for amendments to the law to make it more “flexible” to allow other forms of renewable energy, such as geothermal and wave energy, to meet the standards.

But I-937 already provides for these and other forms of renewable energy.

Worst of all, with no evidence whatsoever, Brown claims implementation of I-937 will burden ratepayers. She fails to account for subsidies to wind-and-solar energy, which exist in our state and nationally to make them competitive, or the 17 covered utilities, 16 of which have already met or exceeded their goals.

The fact is, renewable-energy development is not raising energy rates — not here or in other states with renewable-energy standards. Renewable energy stabilizes costs because the “fuel” is free and local. And, thanks to I-937, the money being invested in communities across our state lowers taxes, creates jobs and puts Washington on the path to a secure energy future.

The people of Washington state, like people across the country, need government to create jobs. Renewable-energy development will create many family-wage jobs for our region. Moreover, the federal government’s stimulus of renewable-energy development makes this the time to get more firmly on course to develop our abundant, renewable-energy potential in Washington, as opposed to getting off the train while it is leaving the station.

Allowing utilities to include existing hydropower and other resources does not create any new jobs. And allowing utilities to secure renewable energy in faraway places may create jobs in other states, but not Washington.

What is Brown thinking? Or, is she not thinking, but simply buying some misguided line from one stogie utility that simply does not appear to care what happens to the people of Washington state or our energy future?

— Katherine Ransel, Seattle

Not the time to celebrate inheriting a network of dams

The intention of the Clean Energy Initiative, I-937, is not to pat ourselves on the back for inheriting a network of dams. It’s about choosing to power the next round of growth in our region with clean energy and the jobs produced as a result.

This is why the hydroelectric provisions of Senate Bill 5840 are such a bad idea. Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, writing in support of the bill, argues to meet our goal of 15 percent renewable energy by 2020, we should turn back the clock and count the electrical capacity we’ve already constructed.

The biggest challenge — and opportunity — of our era is to re-power our economy in a way that improves the quality of life. As it’s now written, SB 5840 would leave us resting on our laurels during this critical moment.

— Patrick McGrath, Seattle

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