Clean energy ballot initiatives fare better at local than state level
- Voters this week rejected two energy ballot initiatives in Arizona and Washington, but a closer look at local elections has renewables advocates optimistic.
- In Portland, Oregon, voters approved a 1% tax on large businesses to fund clean energy programs in the city by a margin of almost 2-1. And in Worthington, Ohio, voters authorized the city government to explore community aggregation alternatives to American Electric Power (AEP), in an effort to lower costs and supply a cleaner mix of electricity.
- An increasing number of Congressional representatives have pledged to refuse campaign donations from the fossil fuel industry as well. More than 30 members of Congress have pledged to not take donations from the fossil fuels industry, including about a third of the Democrats who flipped House seats this week, according to climate advocacy group Oil Change USA.
Two closely-watched state ballot initiatives failed on Tuesday, but clean energy advocates still consider the 2018 midterms as a win for climate policy.
The results "demonstrate that voters overwhelmingly support candidates, including many governors, that recognize the vital importance of investing in a low-carbon economy," Ceres senior director of policy Anne Kelly said in a statement.
Arizona rejected a 50% renewable energy mandate and Washington is projected to reject for a third time a proposed fee on carbon emissions. Nevada voters did endorse a a 50% renewable standard, but the measure will need to be voted on again in 2020 before it's adopted into the state's constitution.
The Portland tax on large businesses targets retailers with sales in the city above a half million dollars, and more than $1 billion nationally — such as big box retailers like Walmart. The measure was opposed by The Oregonian newspaper, which argued plans for spending up to $80 million annually on clean energy, as a result of the tax, were too vague.
The Portland Business Alliance remains "concerned with the impact this gross receipts tax will have on Portlanders who can least afford it," but he went on to say the group does agree "that much more must be done to lessen the impacts of climate change to those most affected," the group's president and CEO, Andrew Hoan, said in a statement.
"Voters across the country elected leaders up and down the ballot who made climate action a part of their platforms, marking a historical moment in which climate change is now a clear part of the political calculus," Climate Nexus said in a statement.
In Ohio, the city leaders in Worthington will now begin considering an opt-out aggregation plan for almost 15,000 residents. The initiative was proposed in March by the city council, with an aim to boost clean energy resources and cut costs.
Cincinnati and Cleveland both use energy aggregation to supply residents, according to ThisWeekNews.com. Worthington will now consider dropping AEP Ohio as the supplier of its energy — though the utility would still deliver it. Worthington could bundle its electricity demand together and negotiate cheaper rates from more than 150 competitive providers in the state.
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