Governor signs Rep. Norma Smith’s solar stewardship bill into law

Gov. Jay Inslee signed House Bill 2645 into law on Thursday. The legislation, prime sponsored by Rep. Norma Smith, will change existing state solar stewardship laws to cover utility-scale panels.

The Photovoltaic Module Stewardship and Takeback Program, a first of its kind in the country, requires manufacturers of solar panels to provide the public a convenient and environmentally sound way to recycle all modules purchased in Washington state after July 1, 2017. House Bill 2645 will close the loophole that exempted utility-scale solar systems and make the program more comprehensive.

“This is a big deal for generational stewardship. Our state must address the full life cycle of solar panels used and this bill is a major step in that direction,” said Smith, R-Clinton. “The law currently applies only to residential panels. Panels at utility-scale solar farms must now be included.”

House Bill 2645 also broadens the prohibition on selling panels that are not part of an approved end-of-life stewardship plan to include not just manufacturers, but also distributors, retailers and installers. This change should make enforcement more equitable and successful.

A section of the bill that would have established the Photovoltaic Module Recovery, Reuse, and Recycling Work Group through the Washington State University Extension Energy Program was vetoed. Gov. Inslee did so as a cost-saving move as the coronavirus threatens state tax collections.

“This was truly a bipartisan effort and I am so grateful for the work and commitment of my colleagues in the House and Senate. Representatives Richard DeBolt and Sharon Shewmake, and Senators Mona Das and Liz Lovelett, were instrumental in getting this important public policy passed,” said Smith. “I am going to miss this type of work. Working with colleagues and stakeholders to develop a concept, build a coalition of supporters, work through issues, and pass legislation that will benefit our environment for years to come. It's an amazing process.”

Smith announced on March 4 that she would not seek re-election in November. House Bill 2645 was the 19th bill prime sponsored by the 10th District lawmaker to be signed into law.   

Smith is the ranking Republican on the House Innovation, Technology and Economic Development Committee, and the assistant ranking Republican on the House Capital Budget Committee. She also serves on the House State Government and Tribal Relations Committee.

To learn more about Smith, please visit: http://normasmith.houserepublicans.wa.gov/. She can be contacted at norma.smith@leg.wa.gov or (360) 786-7884.

The 2020 legislative session ended on March 12.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov