The legislatures in both Oregon and Washington are underway and in both states the budget looms large. As much behind the scenes action takes place on the budget, some energy issues are starting to find their way to legislative hearings.
Washington – A bill promoted by the residential homebuilders to “delay” the already implemented 2009 Washington State Energy Code drew big crowds and lots of thunder at a legislative hearing. The bill would attempt to delay the energy code effective date until later in 2012 – leaving projects in both residential and commercial sectors facing uncertainty at best and at worse, project re-design and supplier re-bidding. NEEC opposes the bill and its governmental affairs team in Olympia has joined a coalition of stakeholders to kill this bill in committee. On a more positive note, a bill to create a “Clean Energy Partnership” at the state level (this was a recommendation of the Governor’s Clean Energy Leadership Council) got favorable testimony (including NEEC’s) at hearings in both the House and Senate. If enacted, this bill (SB 5464) would create a clean energy council administered by a collaboration of the Washington Technology Center and SIRTI (the Spokane Intercollegiate Research and Technology Institute) and governed by a Board of Directors composed of industry leaders and state public and private universities. The council would administer funds and programs related to clean energy development in the state. Energy policy would remain at the Department of Commerce.
Oregon- With the Oregon legislature’s opening gavel a few weeks later than Washington’s, energy legislation is just starting to find its way to final language and the scheduling of public hearings. NEEC is tracking closely bills that will create an energy performance disclosure requirement for residential and commercial buildings in the state, a bill that will create statewide innovative financing and focus some of that opportunity on Oregon’s K-12 school system, and a bill to create an energy efficiency prioritization standard. NEEC other top legislative priorities are an extension of the BETC for energy efficiency and the preservation of the Energy Trust of Oregon’s dedicated funding stream through public purpose charges.
Follow energy efficiency legislation in both states through the Bill Tracker link on the NEEC home page.