NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 23, 2006

Washington's Initiative 937, which appears on the statewide ballot this November, would impose new restrictions on the state's utilities in an effort to reach targets of specifically selected energy types, says Todd Meyers of the Washington Policy Center.

Using a series of incremental steps, Initiative 937 would require that 15 percent of Washington's energy meet their definition of "renewable" by 2020.

Initiative 937 would likely lead to a variety of results and unintended consequences, says Meyers.  Key among these include:

  • Costs for energy are likely to increase, and the burden of higher cost wind and solar power would actually shift from the wealthy onto those less able to afford higher costs.
  • The Initiative does not allow most existing hydropower to be counted as "green" disqualifying 70 percent of Washington's, and 90 percent of Seattle's energy source from helping to meeting the Initiative quota requirement.
  • While the Initiative highlights a number of potential alternative sources of energy, wind power is likely to be the only significant source of energy available to meet the 15 percent legal quota.
  • The Initiative is likely to do little to reduce carbon emissions, since new power sources are likely to simply displace hydro and nuclear power, which already produce zero carbon emissions.
  • The Initiative will result in net job losses as utilities shift resources from proven electricity generation to inefficient and less reliable energy sources.

The Initiative would also likely severely weaken voluntary green energy programs that allow individuals and companies that can afford higher energy costs to pay more for renewable energy, says Meyers.

Source: Todd Myers, "A Guide to Initiative 937: Washington Green Energy Quotas," Washington Policy Center, October 2006.


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