2021 State Energy Strategy recognized for leading advancement of clean energy

The Washington State Department of Commerce’s Energy Division was recognized as a national leader in clean energy with the 2022 State Leadership in Clean Energy (SLICE) Award from the Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA). Washington’s 2021 State Energy Strategy was one of six national recipients of the award.

Austin Scharff, an energy policy specialist, accepted the award on behalf of the team at the CESA membership meeting in Washington, D.C. on June 7.

Austin Scharff poses with Warren Leon, CESA executive director, after accepting the 2022 SLICE Award on behalf of the Commerce Energy Office.
Austin Scharff poses with Warren Leon, CESA executive director, after accepting the 2022 SLICE Award on behalf of the Commerce Energy Office. (Clean Energy States Alliance)

The strategy identifies a comprehensive set of policies and actions to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, grow an equitable clean energy economy and ensure competitive energy prices. The Energy Office completed it in December 2020.

The SLICE Awards are a biennial award recognizing state-funded or public utility-supported programs that further the advancement of clean energy technologies.

A panel of independent judges from a variety of nonprofit energy organizations review nominee criteria including leadership, innovation, cost-effectiveness and replicability. This year’s judges included representatives from the Energy Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Union of Concerned Scientists, Vote Solar and World Resources Institute.

According to the judges, “Washington demonstrated a deep commitment to meaningful community engagement and centering equity concerns.”

The West Coast swept at the awards, with Oregon and California also receiving recognition for their climate-forward plans and policies. The California Energy Commission’s 2022 Energy Code and Oregon Department of Energy’s Orange Solar+Storage Rebate Program were also among the six awardees. The other SLICE Award recipients are:

In addition to the recognition for the Energy Team’s work, it is also a chance for Washington to lead other states to a cleaner future. CESA will release a case study on the winning programs and host a webinar series later this summer.

A carbon-free, clean energy future

The 2021 State Energy Strategy highlights the equitable transition to clean energy requires incorporating energy resilience in policy design and energy planning. This figure shows a multi-faceted process for building equity into clean energy policies and programs.
The 2021 State Energy Strategy highlights the equitable transition to clean energy requires incorporating energy resilience in policy design and energy planning. This figure shows a multi-faceted process for building equity into clean energy policies and programs.

Washington is a national leader on energy and climate policy. The state’s goal is to provide a clean, affordable and equitable energy economy to benefit everyone in the state — including urban and rural communities, overburdened and low-income households, and Indigenous communities.

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a package of historic legislation into law on May 7, 2019, including the Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA). CETA is an ambitious clean energy standard requiring electric utilities to eliminate coal-fired power by 2025, meet a greenhouse gas-neutral standard by 2030 and transition to 100% clean electricity by 2045.

The Washington State Legislature authorized the development of the 2021 State Energy Strategy in 2019, which supports Gov. Inslee’s energy and climate policy agenda. The last state energy strategy was issued in 2012 under former Gov. Christine Gregoire.

The 2019 legislation formed a 27-member advisory committee to represent governmental, Tribal, environmental, consumer and industry interests.

Commerce’s Energy Office spent a year developing the roadmap to meet the state’s goals with support and input from the advisory team and industry experts. Producing the strategy was an opportunity for the Energy Office to strengthen its connections with energy, technical and climate stakeholders in every major sector of the state economy.

“We took a comprehensive look at how consumers and businesses use energy,” said Energy Policy Manager Glenn Blackmon. “This allowed us to identify approaches to reduce dramatically our greenhouse gas emissions while still supporting the economy and keeping energy costs affordable.”

The work has already influenced major policy outcomes in the last two legislative sessions, and the strategy was referenced in dozens of bills and budget proposals. The Energy Office advises policymakers on the advancement of the state’s energy and climate goals, oversees standards, and helps coordinate and assist other state agencies in efficiency and environmental performance.

The blueprint for how Washington will meet the state’s climate goals to eliminate the use of climate-threatening fossil fuels by 2050, grow a prosperous economy, and maintain affordable and reliable energy supplies.
The blueprint for how Washington will meet the state’s climate goals to eliminate the use of climate-threatening fossil fuels by 2050, grow a prosperous economy, and maintain affordable and reliable energy supplies.

Key goals, recommendations, and accomplishments of the 2021 State Energy Strategy include the:

  • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, with a net-zero emissions goal by 2050.
  • Prioritization of equity and environmental justice, with the goal to eliminate disproportionate climate impact on overburdened communities and low-income households.
  • Development of a comprehensive cap-and-invest program and low carbon fuel standard, as well as substantial investments in broadband access, clean energy development and regulatory reform.
  • Implementation of Energy grant and loan programs.
  • Expansion of the state Energy Emergency Management Office.
  • Increase in clean transportation initiatives, electric power systems, building energy efficiency, biofuels and renewable energy uses.

Learn more about the Washington State Energy Office and programs supporting the advancement of clean energy.

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