Washington, Nevada Pass Clean Power Legislation

Washington this week became the latest state to establish a goal of 100% carbon-free clean electricity, as lawmakers passed Senate Bill 5116, which mandates a transition to clean power across the state by 2045. The bill was first introduced in January and is expected to be signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee.

Washington joins other states, including Hawaii, California, and New Mexico, with 100% clean power mandates. Other states, including New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin are considering similar legislation. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak on April 22 signed a bill that requires the state’s power companies to get half their energy from renewable sources by 2030. “This milestone piece of legislation will also help reduce emissions that negatively impact the health and well-being of Nevadans,” Sisolak said.

The Washington legislation calls for:

  • Phasing out coal from the state’s electricity grid by 2025.
  • Emissions reduction targets by 2030 that will limit gas-fired power infrastructure.
  • Require the state to transition to 100% clean electricity by no later than 2045.
  • Include equity analysis in the planning and acquisition of electricity to ensure that 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. That includes prioritizing projects with livable wages, job training, and inclusion of minorities, women, veterans, and local businesses and workers.

Nevada lawmakers approved their renewable energy plan on April 19. It passed the state Senate with a unanimous vote. Sisolak in a news release said, “Today, Nevada sent a message to the country and world that the Silver State is open for business as a renewable leader, and our commitment to growing our clean energy economy transcends party lines.”

Nevada’s clean energy jobs employed more than 32,000 people at the end of 2018, according to Sisolak’s office. The state’s new renewable energy standards could lead to an additional 11,170 jobs by 2030, generating $539 million in wages and $1.5 billion in economic activity, the governor’s office said.

Darrell Proctor is a POWER associate editor (@DarrellProctor1, @POWERmagazine).