House passes solar legislation supported by Rep. Smith

On Tuesday, the state House passed a package of solar bills (House Bill 2346 and House Resolution 4664) that would promote greater deployment, bring a final conclusion to the state’s solar incentive program, and establish the Solar Module Stewardship Takeback and Recycling Program – the first of its kind in the nation.

House Bill 2346 is sponsored by Rep. Jeff Morris, D-Mount Vernon, and co-sponsored by Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton. Smith also sponsored House Resolution 4664. Both pieces of legislation passed with strong bipartisan support.

Morris and Smith believe extending an incentive to promote the installation of renewable and solar systems through 2020 would allow the state’s renewable energy industry to become capable of sustained growth and vitality without the cost recovery incentive from the state. The legislation would close the program for new participants at the end of 2020, and then draw down to completion for current participants.

“In addition to our work to lower the cost of the program and craft an effective end date to the cost recovery incentive, my focus has been on establishing the Solar Module Stewardship Takeback and Recycling Program,” said Smith. “It would be the first of its kind in the nation. While researchers around the world are engaged in research to resolve issues, we must acknowledge the manufacture of the current generation of panels involves toxics and other risky substances. Many panels also utilize rare earth minerals and other resources that are mined overseas, leaving a well-documented legacy of environmental harm. This legislative package would ensure the state has a responsible stewardship program in place to deal with hazardous substances and to recycle the commercially valuable components underwritten by the manufacturers. This is the responsible thing to do now.”

Installations of solar energy systems around the state and globally have been rapidly increasing, partly due to their decline in price, but also due to federal and state tax incentives. In Washington state, utility customers who own and install a solar energy system on property they own are eligible to receive payments from their utility for electricity generated by the solar energy system. The utility, in turn, may claim a tax credit for the amount of payments made.

House Bill 2346 would modify and extend this tax incentive for renewable energy systems, including solar energy systems.

“I have heard from many constituents over the past year about how important solar incentives are for the 10th District,” said Smith. “This legislation is about creating certainty for those who made a significant investment in renewable energy, while recognizing an emerging industry sector in the state of Washington. We need to be forward-looking and build on our shared values of pursuing sustainable renewable energy to complement our clean energy grid.”

House Bill 2346 now moves to the Senate for further consideration.


Washington State House Republican Communications