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Voter initiative on renewables mandate in two states

This month voters go to the polls in Washington state to decide on Initiative 937, a direct voter initiative to approve a state mandate for 15% of electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2020. Wind has already seen steady growth in Washington and would make up the bulk of the power needed. Supporters of the measure are following in the footsteps of their counterparts in Colorado, who two years ago succeeded in passing a statewide mandate through a similar direct ballot initiative after their efforts repeatedly failed to gain traction in the state legislature. Colorado's effort, called Proposition 37, was the first "direct democracy" mandate of its kind. Washington's may be the second. The relatively new use of direct voter initiatives for environmental and energy legislation is not limited to renewables mandates. While Washington's voters make up their minds, California voters to the south will decide on Proposition 87, which would levy a tax on in-state oil company profits, the proceeds of which would go to subsidise a range of qualifying renewable energy projects that directly or indirectly offset the use of oil in the state's transportation sector. Yusef Robb of the "Yes on 87" campaign says wind projects or wind research efforts could compete among other renewables for the expected $4 billion that would be made available for a period of over ten years. Among some eligible examples, he says, would be wind projects that charge plug in hybrid electric vehicles, regular electric vehicles or produce hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles. California and Washington voters cast their votes on November 7.

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