The Washington State legislature officially passed Senate Bill 5116, a bill that mandates an equitable transition to 100% clean electricity generation for the entire state by 2045. First introduced in January, the bill passed the state House last week and now awaits to be signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee.
Washington will become the fifth state and 17th state-level jurisdiction to join California, Hawaii, New Mexico, and as of today, Nevada, in addition to Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico, in committing to 100% clean electricity. Several other states, including Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Nevada, and Massachusetts, are also considering bills targeting a 100% clean electricity.
Washington communities like Edmonds, Spokane, and Whatcom County have already established its own renewable goals.
“We know how to stop climate change: get fossil fuels out of our electricity grid, and build our communities and industries around clean transportation,” said Jesse Piedfort, director of the Sierra Club Washington State Chapter. “Passing this historic legislation continues Washington state’s legacy of environmental leadership and puts us on the path to a stable climate for the next generation.”
The Sierra Club joined a diverse coalition of labor unions, environmental justice groups, businesses, medical professionals, faith leaders and conservation groups in supporting this bill, which is the strongest 100% clean energy legislation to pass in the country. This legislation will:
- Phase-out coal from the state’s electricity grid by 2025, accelerating the closure of increasingly expensive coal plants in Montana and Wyoming that are among the largest sources of climate pollution in the American West;
- Include strong emissions reduction targets by 2030 that will limit unnecessary and costly near-term build out of new fracked gas infrastructure in our electric grid;
- Require the state to transition to 100% clean electricity by 2045 at the latest;
- Include equity analysis in the planning and acquisition of electricity to ensure that any new resources are evaluated based on their contributions to fossil fuel pollution and climate change impacts in low income and frontline communities;
- Increased funding for energy assistance programs for low-income communities. Washington’s largest utilities currently only connect 27% or less of their eligible low-income customers with financial assistance for paying electricity bills — under this bill they must reach 60% by 2030 and 90% by 2050;
- Invest in Washington workers as part of the transition to clean energy, including prioritizing projects with livable wages, job training, and inclusion of minorities, women, veterans, and local businesses and workers.
“Across the country, states are stepping up with ambitious clean energy goals,” said Kass Rohrbach, deputy director of the Sierra Club’s Ready For 100 campaign. “I’m proud that my home state is leading the way by passing the strongest renewable energy legislation to-date, showing that Washingtonians are serious about bringing clean air, affordable energy, and a strong local renewable economy across the state. The movement away from fossil fuels toward 100% clean, renewable electricity is happening town by town, and spreading state by state — congratulations to Washington for taking decisive action for communities across our state.”