Selection of Energy Ballot Initiatives Will Greet Voters Next Tuesday

Date: 1 Nov 2006 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Citizens in cities and states across the country will be casting their votes on some interesting energy issues on November 7th. Ballot initiatives ranging from a renewable energy portfolio requirement in Grand Forks, ND to increasing taxes to fund global warming programs in Seattle, WA will give citizens an opportunity to decide directly which path their communities will take. Democratic energy in action!

Here is a sampling of the some of the ballot proposals:

20 Percent Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard – Fargo and Grand Forks, ND
Citizen activists garnered enough signatures to put a ballot question in each city that would establish a 20 percent renewable electricity standard by 2020 and 30 percent by 2030. The question in Fargo reads, “Shall Article 3(L) of the Home Rule Charter of the City of Fargo be amended to provide that franchise agreements require at least 20% of the electricity delivered into the City be derived from qualified renewable electricity generating sources beginning in 2020 and 30% by the year 2030, all as provided in the Notice of Proposed Home Rule Charter Amendment as published in The Forum on the 4th day of September, 2006?” Similar language is on the ballot in Grand Forks. The language in Grand Forks includes a provision that at least half of the renewable electricity come from North Dakota projects.

Climate Tax Assessment for Funding for GHG Reduction Projects – Boulder, CO
The referendum ballot question would establish of charge on electricity users based on how much energy they use. The money would go to support Boulder’s Climate Action Plan to reduce global warming pollution. Officials in Boulder estimate that the climate tax would add $2 a month to the average household’s bill and between $5 and $35 for businesses. The revenues would be earmarked for public-education campaigns to make people aware of energy- efficiency rebates and other incentives and to fund energy audits for businesses and homeowners and provide residents with easier access to energy-efficient products, such as compact fluorescent light bulbs.

The text of the Boulder ballot question reads, in part:

Shall city of Boulder taxes be increased $860,265 annually (in the first year), and up to $1,342,000 each year thereafter for the period of April 1, 2007 to March 31, 2013, by authorizing the city council to levy and collect a climate action plan tax as an excise tax upon persons consuming electricity as residential, commercial, or industrial customers, and providing an exemption for voluntary purchases of utility provided wind power. The tax shall be established with a first year rate of $0.0022 per kilowatt hour (kWh) for residential customers, $0.0004 per kWh for commercial customers, and $0.0002 per kWh for industrial customers. The tax shall take effect on April 1, 2007 and expire on March 31, 2013, and shall be for the purpose of funding a climate action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The measure would establish city council authority to increase the tax after the first year up to a maximum permitted tax rate of $0.0049 per kWh for residential customers; $0.0009 per kWh for commercial customers; an $0.0003 per kWh for industrial customers.

Bridging the Gap Includes Funding for Greenhouse Gas Reduction Projects – Seattle, WA
Seattle announced their Climate Change Action plan this year and are asking voters as part of their “Bridging the Gap” initiative to approve additional property tax revenues to be used in part to increase transit ridership and decrease driving in the city. The initiative would collect an additional tax levy of $36,650,000 in 2007 and up to $365,000,000 in additional taxes over the nine-year duration of the levy. The Mayor’s office indicates that $34 million of the Bridging the Gap proposal will lead to:

– Substantial bicycle and pedestrian improvements, including new and extended bikeways, sidewalks and trails, and safety upgrades to crosswalks citywide.
– Increased public transportation service, including funding that leverages a two-for-one match from King County Metro’s Transit Now package.
– Investments in freight mobility that will reduce emissions by easing congestion for trucks.
– Renovation of King Street Station as a multi-modal transportation hub.

Oil Extraction Tax to Fund Clean Energy – California
This initiative would establish a $4 billion program to reduce oil and gasoline usage by 25%, with research and production incentives for alternative energy, alternative energy vehicles, energy efficient technologies, and for education and training. Funded by tax of 1.5% to 6%, depending on oil price per barrel, on producers of oil extracted in California. The proposal would prohibit producers from passing the tax on to consumers. The tax is expected to raise between $200-380 million.

– Proponent: Californians for Clean Alternative Energy
– Opponent: No on 87

Renewable Energy 15-by-20 Plan – Washington
This renewable energy measure (I-937) would require investor-owned and consumer-owned electric utilities with 25,000 or more customers (17 out of 62 utilities statewide) to meet designated targets for energy conservation and use of eligible renewable energy resources. Renewable energy resource targets may also be met by purchasing renewabl energy resource credits. Utilities not meeting conservation and renewable energy resource targets would pay penalties to the state. To meet the goals in this initiative would result in most of the future load growth in Washington to be met primarily with renewable energy and conservation.


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John Farrell

John Farrell directs the Energy Democracy initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and he develops tools that allow communities to take charge of their energy future, and pursue the maximum economic benefits of the transition to 100% renewable power.