Thursday, November 09, 2006

Election 2006: Clean Energy Candidates Win Across West

Voters in several Western states chose to elect candidates from both parties that support clean energy in this Tuesday's mid-term elections.

These results highlight the many opportunities to enact clean energy legislation throughout the West in the coming years as supportive governors and state legislators take (or return to) office throughout the region. Advocates of a clean energy future can expect to see a number of new public policies that promote rural economic development, stable-cost energy resources and environmentally friendly renewable energy project development throughout the region.

Below is a brief summary of winning candidates and issues from yesterday's election results in the West:

Oregon

Ted Kulongoski (D) reelected governor 51% to 42% over Republican challanger, Ron Saxton.

In his words:

"[W]e ... need a strategy to make Oregon a national leader in alternative and renewable energy. I'm working on several fronts to achieve this goal. My proposal calls for 25 percent of Oregon's total electricity to come from renewable sources by 2025. A renewable energy portfolio has proved to spur renewable energy production, help the environment, and create family-wage jobs.

Biofuels: My plan capitalizes on emerging "bio-energy" markets, particularly biodiesel and ethanol, to make Oregon a global leader in biofuel production.

Conservation: Conservation is highly effective in reducing energy consumption. That's why I've more than tripled the state's flex, biofuel and alternative fuel vehicles and will continue to promote innovative technologies that provide savings and economic opportunities.

Tax credits to support new investment in renewable energy: I am pursuing a variety of tax incentives to encourage investments in renewable energy technologies, including an increase in the Oregon Business Energy Tax credit from 35 percent to 50 percent and in the eligible cost from $10 million to $20 million per project." [From OregonLive.com 2006 Voters Guide interview with Governor Kulongoski]

Washington

Senator Maria Cantwell (D) was solidly reelected 57% to 39% over challanger Mike McGavick.

In her words:
"Washington State can be a leader in renewable energy industries and create thousands of new jobs right here at home. ... We need to develop more alternative sources of energy, including wind, to create a better, safer, more prosperous future for all our families." [From a Cantwell campaign ad]

Arizona

Janet Napolitano (D) re-elected governor, 63% to 35%, over challenger Len Munsil (R)

In her own words:
"Arizona could be the next Persian Gulf of solar energy...We average well over 320 days of sunshine per year, and that's one of our greatest resources, and we ought to use it." [Comments at North American Energy Summit, Albuquerque, N.M., 16 April 2004]

Arizona Corporation Commissioner Kris Mayes (R) re-elected with 26% of vote (highest of five candidates; top two voter-getters take office).

In her own words:
"This [Arizona's new 15% renewable energy standard] is a vote for more jobs in rural Arizona, a healthier water supply, and a more secure electrical grid. Move over California: with these rules we are making Arizona the solar energy capital of the world once again!" [Comments delivered while voting for Arizona's new Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff at the Arizona Corporation Commission, 31 October 2006]

Arizona Corporation Commissioner candidate Gary Pierce (R) elected with 25% of vote (second-highest of five candidates; top two vote-getters take office)

In his own words:
"I don't have a problem with 2025 [target date for Arizona's new Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff], but 15 percent is an arbitrary number. We need a goal, but should recognize it's variable. Let's see how the new rules impact the utility industry, and if they cause significant cost increases (for the consumer). Let's watch it year to year and do whatever is reasonable and responsible." [From 12 October 2006 interview with the Tucson Weekly ]

Colorado

Bill Ritter (D) elected governor, 56% to 41%, over challenger Bob Beauprez (R)

In his own words:
"We believe that the 'Colorado Promise' is about the new energy economy where this state, Colorado, is a leader in renewable energy, in wind, solar and biofuels." [From acceptance speech, 7 November 2006]

Local Ballot Issues:

Boulder voters back carbon tax, 58% to 42%.

Funds will go toward new Climate Action Plan (CAP) programs, such as helping businesses obtain Xcel rebates for purchases of energy-efficient hardware, performing energy audits to help people understand how they can save energy, and assisting low-income citizens by distributing energy efficiency kits. [See article in today's Colorado Daily.]

Carbondale (Colo.) voters approve, 81% to 19%, a measure allowing the town to issue up to $1.8 million in Clean Renewable Energy Bonds to build and operate two large-scale solar systems.

Nevada

Jim Gibbons (R) elected governor, 50% to 46%, over challenger Dina Titus (D)

In his own words:
"I believe we can turn Nevada into an energy independent state. In Congress, I re-wrote the Geothermal Steam Act, essentially making it economically feasible to harvest one of our state's most abundant forms of energy. As governor, I would continue to make geothermal power, as well as solar and wind power, economically attractive. These clean energy sources would give Nevadans independence from other states and other countries that currently supply us. They would also stabilize our utility bills while those around us fluctuate with world events."
[From statement by Jim Gibbons in 6 November 2006 Rebel Yell]

New Mexico

Bill Richardson (D) re-elected governor, 68% to 32% over challenger John Dendahl (R)

In his own words:
"[Wind energy] is a good example of how New Mexico is becoming a national leader in clean energy. Since I became Governor, we've started requiring utility companies to produce ten percent of their energy through renewable sources. We've eliminated the state sales tax on hybrid cars and offered a solar tax credit. Clean energy is the key to holding down gas prices, ensuring our national security and creating the jobs of the future." [From Richardson campaign commercial]

Utah

Utah did not have a gubernatorial election yesterday. However, the two legislators who plan to carry a state renewable energy tax credit in the 2007 legislature were both re-elected:

Senator Howard Stephenson (R-Draper) defeated Adam Ford, 65% to 35%
Rep. Sheryl Allen (R-Bountiful) defeated Richard Watson (D), 68% to 27%

Wyoming

Dave Freudenthal (D) re-elected governor, 70% to 30%, over challenger Ray Hunkins (R)

In his campaign's words:
"Gov Dave's priorities for a second term are to continue to promote the culture of bipartisan and statewide cooperation --- and to make permanent the smart investments made toward a stable future for Wyoming: Development on Wyoming's Terms...
· Protect Wyoming's natural treasures
· Get full value for our minerals by encouraging development of powerlines, powerplants, pipelines, clean coal technologies and alternative energy within Wyoming
· Additional funding for wildlife habitat and migration corridor protection
· Diversify Wyoming's economy"

Voters Make Their Voice Clear: We Want a Clean Energy Future!

I'm sure that there are many more clean energy champions out there that I missed. I encourage any of you readers to mention them in comments here if you know of any other newly elected or reelected public servants that have pledged to work hard to promote a clean energy future at the local, state or national level.

By supporting these candidates, voters across the West, and indeed across the United States, have made their voices clear in this election: we want representatives that will fight for clean, homegrown renewable energy that creates jobs here our communities, provides us with safer, more stable and more secure energy, and helps create a clean and healthy future for ourselves and our children!

We'll need the hard work and support of all of these clean energy champions in the years ahead to craft smarty public policies that will help bring about the much-needed transition to a sustainable energy future!

I'd encourage you to write letters to your own representatives to make sure they know you expect them to fight for a sustainble energy future. If they are one of these clean energy champions, they'll be glad to hear you reaffirm their stance, and if they aren't on this list, perhaps if they hear a call for clean energy from enough of their constituents, they'll be on this list next year!

[A hat tip to Craig Cox, Executive Director of the Interwest Energy Alliance for providing the results for all the states excepting Oregon and Washington. Photo credit: Leon Werdinger, October 2006]

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