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The Spokesman Review
May 18, 2013

Guest opinion: Clean energy incentives keep spurring growth

Seven years ago, Washington voters made the smart choice to invest in the state by supporting renewable energy. Washington voters passed Initiative 937, which created a clean energy standard. The law requires the state’s large electric utilities to incrementally increase their electricity from new renewable resources to 15 percent by 2020.

This choice has paid off. Washington has seen more than $8 billion worth of investment in the renewable energy industry. This has resulted in thousands of new construction and operations jobs in rural parts of the state. This in turn has created more than $85 million in property tax revenue that funds schools and fire departments, among the many benefits to local communities.

But, there are those in the Legislature who would dismiss this success by weakening the voter-backed initiative in a way that removes smart incentives for companies to invest in renewable energy. Attempts to weaken the initiative by allowing existing resources, or even coal, to have a role are not consistent with the law’s goal to diversify our electricity supply with new, clean renewable resources and all reasonable energy efficiency.

Failure to extend the renewable sales and use tax exemption would be another mistake that harms Washington’s renewable aspirations. Legislators need to stand up for renewable energy and resist attempts to weaken the standard which would slow economic development and risk jobs.

I work for an investment management company that specializes in sustainable and responsible investments. My firm, Calvert Investments, has more than $12 billion under management. This includes firms such as Google, Coca-Cola, AT&T and a range of companies based, or with significant operations in, Washington. We understand what companies look for when making investments.

Smart investors are cautious by nature. This is why ensuring Washington’s continued investment in, and development of, renewable energy is so important. Investment depends on stable, long-term policies. Any revision to I-937 sends the wrong message to investors who are considering putting money into the state.


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