A report prepared by Carbon Washington members and funded by the Carbon Tax Center says that loans tied to property (rather than individuals) would help propel clean energy and energy-efficiency measures — but Washington State’s constitution prohibits them.
The report is called “Washington State Climate Change Education and Policy Exploration.” The section on “Barriers to Property-Assessed Clean Energy Programs in Washington State” explains how property-assessed clean energy — or PACE — programs work.
Such programs provide “financing for clean energy and energy efficiency measures for commercial and residential buildings, in which the financing is attached to the property, not the owner. As of mid-2017, nineteen states have active PACE programs with funded projects, and another fourteen states, plus Washington D.C., have active PACE legislation.” PACE programs address a critical contributor to our carbon footprint — aging, inefficient buildings.
The report says the PACE approach has been effective. “Since 2009, commercial PACE programs have financed an estimated 1,030 projects, providing approximately $400 million in financing for energy updates. During the same period, residential PACE programs have financed over 150,000 projects through $3.7 billion in home upgrades.”
About half the upgrades deal with energy efficiency, such as HVAC systems, LED lighting, installing energy efficiency appliances, and water conservation upgrades. In second place: renewable energy upgrades (mainly solar panel installations). These upgrades dramatically reduce the energy and environmental impacts of the renovated buildings.
PACE has been discussed in Washington State, but a thorough public review of the opportunity for Washington to enact such a program has not been undertaken until now. Unfortunately, PACE financing is not available in Washington, nor is it likely to be without amending the state’s constitution. PACE attaches the loan bill to the property tax and uses the authority of the state as a financial entity to collect the loan payments. The constitution prohibits the state from acting as a creditor or a loan pass through in a provision commonly referred to as “lending of the state’s credit.”
The report’s authors consulted constitutional law experts about a potential work-around. The bottom line: “The only resolution for this structure of the program appears to be a constitutional amendment.”
The report was researched and written by Megan Conaway, Rheanna Johnston, Kyle Murphy and Blake Wedekind.
Carbon Washington is mapping its future — and we invite you to consider coming along with us on the journey. We’re looking for a Treasurer to provide financial oversight and a Development Chair to assist with fundraising. Here are the descriptions of each position, along with info on how to apply:
If those roles don’t sound like you — but you’d still like to help — you can get involved by writing your legislator, subscribing to our newsletter, and donating to help us get ready for 2018. Thanks for your interest in helping us accelerate clean energy!
The legislature has passed a budget deal, and despite our efforts, it does not include a price on carbon. We did a heckuva job putting a carbon tax in play this legislative session, holding two lobby days engaging hundreds of people around the state, creating and leading the ACT NOW coalition, and placing numerous media pieces.
However, the legislature opted to raise property taxes, sales tax, and close a number of tax breaks to raise revenue. While the budget deal allocates some funding for the Clean Air Rule, and closes an oil refinery tax break. We are concerned that the legislature failed to address climate change in a major way and that the negotiations were held in secret, without time for public scrutiny.
Write to your senator and both your representatives letting them know how you feel about this. Feel free to include some or all of the points in our recent media statement. You can write your own letter or use this one to get you started. (The link automatically addresses your emails to the proper legislators.)
You might also express your strong support for a carbon tax in the 2018 legislative session. Our legislators do listen. And when they get enough input, they’ve been known to change their positions. (They like getting re-elected!)
Thanks for supporting a carbon tax — and for all you’re doing to help make it a reality.
MEDIA STATEMENT (Contact: Samara Villasenor, firstname.lastname@example.org, 425.255.0890)
Washington’s children have a constitutional right to both an adequate education and a livable climate. While lawmakers took steps to fully fund K-12 education, they failed — for the third year in a row — to seriously consider bills that would substantially reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the unavoidable impacts of climate change.
As in 2015, House and Senate leaders missed a golden opportunity to solve two problems at once, by putting a price on carbon pollution to both reduce emissions and help meet the state’s funding needs. Democrats neglected to walk their climate talk, failing to bring any of the four carbon tax bills put forward this session to a vote in the House. Meanwhile, some key Republicans continue to espouse the false notion that a carbon tax would hurt the state economy, despite clear evidence to the contrary from multiple studies and the experience implementing a carbon tax in British Columbia.
Our grassroots members worked tirelessly during the session to educate their representatives on the urgent need to protect our climate. We are grateful for their efforts and support. We also commend Sen. Hobbs, Sen. Palumbo, Rep. Fitzgibbon, and Gov. Inslee for proposing meaningful carbon pricing policies this year.
Given the Legislature’s unwillingness to act, it’s clear that taking meaningful steps to reduce carbon pollution will be up to the citizens of Washington. Carbon Washington’s next step will be to explore potential ballot initiatives that will reduce emissions and accelerate the transition to clean energy — in an effective, equitable, economically sound, and politically viable manner. We look forward to working with civic, environmental, business, and social justice leaders to get a winning measure on the 2018 ballot.
We can no longer ignore the threat that climate change poses to our state’s people, environment, and economy. All of us have a moral obligation to protect the children of today, and future generations, from the dangerous impacts of climate change. There is no more time for delay. We need to ACT NOW.
NEWS RELEASE (Contact: Samara Villasenor, email@example.com, 425.255.0890)
ACT NOW Virtual Lobby Day on June 15 will demonstrate voter support for a carbon tax to reduce carbon pollution that causes climate change and fund the state’s biennial budget.
Advocates for a Carbon Tax NOW (ACT NOW) will hold a statewide virtual lobby day on Thursday, June 15, to demonstrate to Washington state legislators that their constituents enthusiastically support a price on carbon. Audubon Washington, Carbon Washington, and the League of Women Voters of Washington are among a growing coalition of organizations and individuals that have joined ACT NOW because they want to see a carbon tax pass during this legislative session. There are currently four carbon tax bills in front of the state legislature which, if passed, would demonstrate leadership on climate change policy while offering a path forward for creating the revenue required to rewrite the state’s biennial budget.
“We have a moral responsibility to protect our birds, our children, and future generations from the adverse effects of climate change,” said Gail Gatton, Executive Director of Audubon Washington. “We can’t afford to wait any longer before we take action. Our state legislators have a golden opportunity in front of them to show bipartisan leadership by passing a carbon tax. Doing so would set much-needed precedent for other states to follow. This is how change starts.” (Full statement here.)
This legislative session represents an important opportunity for Washington to lead on climate change. Below is a simple breakdown of current bills before the legislature. If anything is passed, it may resemble a combination of one or more of these bills. Further, the legal language is not finalized, and Carbon Washington is not yet endorsing any of the bills. To read the full language, go to http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/, and search by bill number.