Cowlitz PUD officials estimate that the carbon tax could cost the utility about $5 million to $9 million in the first year, or as much as 3 percent of the PUD’s $282 million 2016 budget. The tax would also rise incrementally, and the PUD projects that by 2047 costs could range from $26 million to $50 million (in 2016 dollars). Utilities typically increase rates by 1 percentage point for every $1 million in cost increases.
In a draft of its annual greenhouse gas emissions tally, the EPA reported that emissions in the year 2014 climbed almost 1 percent from 2013 to 2014. That brought emissions back above the level of Obama’s first year in office, 2009. In negotiating the Paris treaty, signed in December, the U.S. pledged to cut emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025, below the level of 2005.
With the 2016 Legislative session nearing a close, the focus is turning towards budget negotiations. But, there is one debate that may be just getting started. Yesterday a working draft of what could become I-732 B was sent out to legislators. The draft, crafted by the Washington Business Alliance lays out a framework for a
Supporters of an initiative to create a carbon tax in Washington are asking legislators to consider fixing flaws in the measure. But the Legislature appears unlikely to oblige, leaving I-732 facing political headwinds. Already, the state Democratic Party and state Labor Council have formally opposed the measure, citing the potential hit to the state budget.
That’s the sticking point: SB 6248 includes a provision that could allow PSE, in the process of letting go of Units 1 and 2, to skirt Washington’s existing emissions laws in order to acquire more coal-fired power from Colstrip’s younger Unit 3. Or, as the bill puts it: The UTC is allowed to provide “exemption from [Washington’s] greenhouse gas emissions performance standards.”
The U.S. Department of Energy announced Thursday an agreement with an energy cooperative that could lead to the building of small commercial nuclear reactors at an eastern Idaho federal nuclear site. Additional steps in the process, such as an environmental analysis if the company decides to move forward, means the small modular reactors likely wouldn’t be operational before 2023.
The candid communications between commissioners, their staff and the governor’s office provide an inside view of why regulators think the anti-coal, pro-renewable energy bill sailing through a short session of the Legislature is a sweet deal for utilities, bad for consumers and ineffective for the environment.
A bill that would authorize the state’s largest utility to create a fund to pay for the eventual shutdown of two coal-powered electricity plants in Montana easily passed the Washington State Senate on Wednesday. Senate Bill 6248, which is being closely watched in Montana, passed by a vote of 42-7, and it now heads to the State House for consideration.
Against the current background, today’s very low prices – below $35 a barrel at times since the beginning of this year – create a golden opportunity to implement a variable carbon tax. The idea is simple: The tax would decrease gradually as oil prices rise, and then increase again when prices eventually come back down.