The Washington Energy Independence Act (I-937)

Beginning in 2012, investor-owned utilities will be required to meet certain targets for serving customer loads with renewable energy resources as well as achieving all cost-effective energy conservation.  This is mandated by Washington’s Energy Independence Act passed by the voters in November 2006.

Investor-owned utilities in Washington generated 806 million kWh, or 92 aMW of qualified renewable energy in 2008. This was 2% of total retail sales of the investor-owned utilities. The combined resource mix for the total 806 million kWh is shown below. More information is available on our Green Power page. The renewable energy resource mix chart below clearly shows that wind energy is contributing the most renewable energy to Washington customers and this trend is expected to continue.

The percentage of renewable energy required by the Washington’s Energy Independence Act starts in 2012 and increases through the year 2020.

Washington’s Renewable Electric Requirements

Year Energy Generation Requirements
2012 3%
2016 9%
2020 15%

Oregon, Montana, and California have more aggressive timelines and/or percentage requirements for renewable energy generation by their utilities whereas Idaho has no such requirements.

The Washington Energy Independence Act states that this policy is established to “stabilize electricity prices for Washington residents, provide economic benefits for Washington counties and farmers, create high-quality jobs in Washington, provide opportunities for training apprentice workers in the renewable energy field, protect clean air and water, and position Washington state as a national leader in clean energy technologies.”

2020 Energy Independence Act RPS Update

As of September 2020, the WA-UTC found all three of the state's investor-owned electric utilities (IOUs) have met the ultimate 15% renewable electric target pursuant to Washington's EIA renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requirement. The three-member commission determined that Avista Corporation, Pacific Power & Light Company, and Puget Sound Energy all complied with the RPS reporting requirements demonstrating the companies had obtained 15% of their electricity from eligible renewable resources, including wind, solar, and incremental hydropower. These achievements, which culminate the eight-year ramp up of renewable energy requirements dictated by the voter approved EIA in 2006, are timely as the WA-UTC, electric IOUs, and stakeholders pivot to implement Washington's Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA).

Programs for Consumers

There are a number of programs intended to encourage investment in renewable energy resources. Voluntary Green Power Programs are available from all utilities so customers can provide a contribution to the renewable energy program.

Net metering is a program that allows individual customers to sell power back to the utility. More information is available on our Net Metering page.

In addition, there are incentives available from some utilities to offset the costs of installation of renewable energy systems.

Federal tax credits are available for installation of selected energy efficient measures and alternative energy are available for.

Washington state provides sales tax exemptions for certain small scale renewable energy installations.

Effective July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2013, purchases and installation of machinery and equipment that will be used directly in a facility that generates no more than ten kilowatts of electricity using solar energy are exempt from sales/use tax.

In addition, purchases and installation of machinery and equipment used directly in generating electricity using fuel cells, sun, wind, biomass energy, tidal and wave energy, geothermal resources, anaerobic digestion, technology that converts otherwise lost energy from exhaust, or landfill gas in a facility that generates no less than one kilowatt of electricity are exempt from sales/use tax subject to the following:

  • From July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2011 the exemption is 100% of the sales or use tax paid.
  • From July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2013, the exemption is in the form of a refund from the Department of Revenue of 75% of sales or use tax paid. Buyer will need to pay sales tax to the seller, and then request a refund from the Department.

Renewable Energy Technologies

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory provides comprehensive information about renewable technologies.

The 2008 Wind Technologies Market Report provides a retrospective look at the continuing emergence of wind energy in the U.S. The report summarizes trends in wind power generation, prices, wind development, interconnection issues, equipment manufacturers and related market issues and trends. The report and other information is available at the Wind Powering America website.