Dear Senator Hargrove and Representatives Van de Wege and Tharinger:
We represent some 500 residents of the Olympic Peninsula, concerned about the impacts of climate change which are already affecting us all, and hoping to reduce our collective carbon footprint as much and as quickly as possible, as well as preparing for the impacts we cannot avoid.
In 2005 our legislators created a unique program to spur the development of solar energy industries here in Washington. Although it was slow to gain traction, it has become a success in the last five years, creating hundreds of jobs and supporting others during and after the recession. For every dollar that is spent in this program, two and a half dollars are injected into the economy and clean power is generated that does not rely on snowpack or fossil fuels.
While the legislature has been working on the next budget, a group of stakeholders has been crafting a replacement solar program that has a reduced and declining cost, while still providing some incentive. As a group many of whose members have ‘gone solar’ and many more of whom would like to, we ask for your continued support of solar in Washington; let’s not lose the economic development and environmental gains that we have made. The BPA Whitebook generation forecast predicts a significant reduction in power delivery in the coming years. We have a choice to either supplant that deficit by burning more carbon-based fuel or continuing to promote clean rooftop solar energy. There has been an intensified effort by the energy sector to limit or stifle the expansion of solar power. Climate-denying groups such as ALEC have provided legislators and utility managers with data and a narrative to convince them that solar power co-generators are costing their other non-solar rate payers more money, and some utilities are using that argument to impose fees on individuals with solar installations. The truth is that supplanting the grid with clean power reduces the need to build more costly infrastructure and burn dirty fuel. Those are the costs that drive rate increases, not solar. Moreover, there are significant externalized environmental costs which are borne by taxpayers and should not be ignored. Supporting solar power makes financial, technical and moral sense. We urge you to consider these factors and think of the future, moving toward a sustainable vision we can all live with.
Brian Grad and Ed Chadd, on behalf of