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Category Archives: Renewable Energy

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Defeat of the Carbon Tax: As Washington Increasingly Mimics the Partisan Gridlock of the “other Washington,” it Risks Losing Progressive Action in the Name of Progressive Principles

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, Fuel Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Sustainability, Tax, Uncategorized

We all know the federal government is hamstrung by partisan gridlock.  Where once lawmakers recognized that passing legislation required that both parties end up being able to claim success, that no one got everything they wanted, and that progress was never perfect, today there seem to be new rules holding forth:  “I will only ‘compromise’… Continue Reading

Cap and Trade to Reduce Carbon Emissions in Washington Is SO 1990s

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Legislation, Renewable Energy, Tax

Lots of big ideas – think the minimum wage, women’s suffrage, abolition, fair labor standards – take years or decades from when they are first proposed to their final adoption. The fact that it takes a while to bring enough of society around to actually adopt a new idea doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good… Continue Reading

Seattle Energy Code — Part Two

Posted in Energy Conservation, Green Building, Renewable Energy

Point/Counterpoint on Requiring Upgrades When  Buildings Undergo Major Renovation In an earlier post (Part One) I described the broad outlines of the new City of Seattle Energy Code that is under development.  The new Seattle Energy Code seeks to go significantly beyond the newly approved 2012 Washington State Energy Code  – which itself is light… Continue Reading

The Seattle 2012 Energy Code – Part 1

Posted in Energy Conservation, Green Building, Renewable Energy

Grinding Out the Ground Game of Energy Efficiency Back in October of 2011 the Seattle City Council passed a resolution “committing” the City to become a zero-net greenhouse gas emitter by 2050.  Although individuals, cities, and governments or organizations in general seldom achieve lofty goals without first setting lofty goals, we all know that lofty… Continue Reading

What Does Data Show About the Economics of Regional Cap-and-Trade?

Posted in Alternative Fuels, Climate Change, Entrepreneurs, Legislation, Natural Resources and Environment, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Business

Back before the recession, there was a major push in Washington State to adopt a state carbon cap-and-trade program as part of Washington’s membership in the Western Climate Initiative (WCI).  The argument was heated, and like most things these days tended to split on party lines with a gulf between the two.  Democrats generally argued… Continue Reading

In Defense(?) of the Initiative

Posted in Legislation, Renewable Energy

A few years ago I adopted a personal policy that I always vote “no” on any initiative.  It is satisfying, and it saves me a fair amount of time with the voters pamphlet.  I’m part of the demographic that always votes in every election – and thus gets the maximum amount of pre-election mail.  (If… Continue Reading

Washington’s Utilities and Transportation Commission Tackles the Conundrum of Distributed Energy, Part 2

Posted in Entrepreneurs, Legislation, Regulatory, Renewable Energy

As I tried to describe in part one of this article, Washington has some structural challenges that impair its ability to develop distributed energy as a significant alternative to fossil fuel-powered electrical power generation. The regulatory system that has been built up over the last 100 years has powerful constituencies that it must protect. Those are… Continue Reading

Washington’s Utilities and Transportation Commission Tackles the Conundrum of Distributed Energy, Part 1

Posted in Entrepreneurs, Renewable Energy

In a two-part post, I’ll look first on what makes encouraging distributed energy such a conundrum, and then at the steps the WUTC is proposing to take. For part two, please click here. The Early 20th Century Bargain With Investor-Owned Utilities Electrical companies are natural monopolies within their service areas. It would make no sense at all… Continue Reading

Seattle Resolves to Achieve Zero Net Green House Gas Emissions by 2050

Posted in Electric Vehicles, Energy Conservation, Legislation, Renewable Energy

Do you believe in magic? There is a certain sense that is what it takes for the Seattle City Council to do what it did on October 3, 2011, when it passed Resolution 31312, which puts the City on the path towards reducing Seattle’s net green house gas emissions level to zero by 2050. The… Continue Reading

Oberlin, Ohio Joins the Ground Game of Carbon Neutrality

Posted in Alternative Fuels, Green Building, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Business

I was asked last week to refer someone to a consultant who could help them evaluate a business selling carbon credits and renewable energy credits. While I could suggest a consultant to do that, I had to note that selling carbon credits just isn’t the same business as it would have been if the United… Continue Reading

EPA Gives Itself Three More Years To Figure Out A Tailoring Rule For Biomass Energy

Posted in Legislation, Natural Resources and Environment, Regulatory, Renewable Energy

The Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. § 7401 et seq was adopted in the early 1960s to insure that business and industry does not spew pollutants into the air, causing harm to humans, plants and animals. Congress found that “the growth in the amount and complexity of air pollution brought about by urbanization, industrial development,… Continue Reading

One More (Baby?) Step Towards Aviation Fuel From Forest Biomass

Posted in Alternative Fuels, Natural Resources and Environment, Regulatory, Renewable Energy

Air travel is a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions and a major consumer of fossil fuels.  As a result Boeing and Airbus, as well as European airlines, have made major investments in developing aviation biofuel.  In 2008 Boeing said that aviation biofuel would be a reality by 2011. Well, 2011 is here, but commercial… Continue Reading

Hearing on HB 1268 Presents a Microcosm of Why Adopting and Implementing an Energy Policy that Moves Away from the Status Quo Is So Hard

Posted in Alternative Fuels, Legislation, Renewable Energy

The Washington State Green Energy Leadership Plan Report, released October 21, 2010, identified four areas where it found Washington State might be able to achieve leadership in emerging segments of the future green economy. As we discussed in an earlier post, for two of those areas – combined energy efficiency, green building and smart grid… Continue Reading

Food Fight! Greenhouse Gas Regulation in 2011

Posted in Legislation, Regulatory, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Business

For most of the last two years it has been easy to write about climate change legislation. Two years ago, Washington State seemed poised to adopt its own version of a cap-and-trade program as part of the Western Climate Initiative. But that legislation faltered, because it was not well developed and state legislators were bombarded… Continue Reading

Amending Washington’s Utility Statutes to Promote Green Energy Investment by Utilities

Posted in Regulatory, Renewable Energy

As Judy Endejan reported on October 21, the Washington State Clean Energy Leadership Plan Report identified regulatory influences and challenges as a key factor influencing clean energy job development in Washington. One of those challenges is the uncertainty utilities face in cost recovery because regulated utilities do not know whether they will be allowed to… Continue Reading

King County’s 2010 Energy Plan – The Glass Half Full

Posted in Legislation, Regulatory, Renewable Energy

Following adoption of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, for more than a decade discussion of response to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions focused on sweeping national and international programs. The Obama Administration made responding to global climate change one of the key issues it intended to address. More than a year ago the U.S. House… Continue Reading


Posted in Alternative Fuels, Climate Change, Entrepreneurs, Natural Resources and Environment, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Business

Washington’s Department of Ecology recently issued a report entitled “Washington Western Climate Initiative Economic Impact Analysis,” which predicts that if the cap-and-trade program advocated by the Western Climate Initiative were adopted, the result would be an additional 19,300 jobs by 2020 and $3.3 billion increased economic output in the state product by 2020.  Presumably those… Continue Reading

Utility Regulation If Global Warming Mattered

Posted in Natural Resources and Environment, Regulatory, Renewable Energy

In Washington, as in most states, privately owned public utilities are regulated by the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC). Utility regulation developed beginning in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries, and reflected the battles of that era with the monopolistic power of railroads and utilities. As the nation first discovered the power and mobility… Continue Reading

Urban Wood Waste Cuts Seattle Steam’s Fossil Fuel Carbon Emissions in Half

Posted in Alternative Fuels, LEED, Renewable Energy

Seattle Steam Company was founded in 1893. It has 18 miles of steam pipes running under the streets of downtown Seattle, which it uses to distribute steam to approximately 200 downtown buildings, and the First Hill neighborhoods. That steam heats the buildings, sterilizes hospital instruments, and creates the hot water to wash mountains of hotel… Continue Reading

Would a Feed-In Tariff for Solar Energy Make Distributed Energy Work?

Posted in Alternative Fuels, Legislation, Natural Resources and Environment, Renewable Energy

Most of the discussion about substituting renewable energy for fossil fuels in the production of electricity focuses on major projects – the wind farm that can light Vancouver, or the co-generation plant that can supply all the electricity for Bellevue. It may be that such projects will be necessary, but they are at the very… Continue Reading