Renewable Energy and Conservation Initiative

Initiative Measure No. 937

This measure, approved by voters in November 2006, imposes targets for energy conservation and the use of eligible renewable resources on all electric utilities that serve more than 25,000 customers in Washington.

(1) Energy conservation.

By January 1, 2010, utilities are required to identify their “achievable cost-effective conservation potential” through 2019. Each utility will set an annual target consisting of a certain share of this achievable cost-effective conservation potential, and will have to meet that share of conservation. Each utility must update their conservation potential and targets every two years. Utilities subject to this law must pursue all available conservation that is cost-effective, reliable and feasible.

(2) Renewable resources.

Each utility will have to use renewable energy resources to serve at least three percent (3%) of its load by 2012 through 2015; nine percent (9%) of load by 2016 through 2019, and fifteen percent (15%) of load by 2020 and after. Wind farms, solar panels, and geothermal plants are examples of eligible renewable resources. With limited exceptions, use of fresh water by hydroelectric dams and plants is not included as an eligible renewable resource. 

(3) Cost recovery, penalties, reporting and enforcement.

Utilities can recover from its customers all costs prudently incurred to comply with the measure. Utilities that fail to comply with either the energy conservation targets or the renewable energy targets will pay a penalty of $50 for each megawatt-hour of shortfall, adjusted annually for inflation. Penalty payments will go into a special account, and can only be used for the purchase of renewable energy credits or for energy conservation projects at state and local government facilities or publicly-owned educational institutions.

In each year beginning in June 2012, publicly-owned utilities are required to report to the state Department of Commerce on the utility’s progress in the preceding year in meeting the targets. Investor-owned utilities will supply the same information to the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) in June 2012. Utilities are also required to make these reports available to their customers.

The UTC adopted rules to implement and enforce the law as to investor-owned utilities. For publicly-owned utilities, Department of Commerce adopted procedural rules and documentation requirements. The state auditor will audit compliance with the measure and the Attorney General’s Office is responsible for enforcement.

Initiative 937 was codified as Chapter 19.285 in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW)

The UTC rules were adopted as Chapter 480-109 in the Washington Administrative Code (WAC)