Spokane Mayor Vetoes Renewable Electricity Ordinance

Sep 6, 2018

Mayor David Condon has vetoed an ordinance that aims to have the city be powered exclusively by renewable energy sources by 2030.
Credit City of Spokane

Spokane Mayor David Condon has vetoed an ordinance that set goals for generating electricity using only renewable sources.

The ordinance would require the city prepare a plan to run its operations exclusively on renewable electricity sources by the year 2020, with the rest of the city meeting that goal by 2030.

It would create an 11-member commission that decide how to get there.

That would include representatives from the city, business and Avista, but also from low-income people and environmental groups.

In his veto letter, the mayor recounted how he and the council worked together on a variety of other important environmental initiatives, from improving the water quality of the Spokane River to reducing dangerous PCBs. The ordinance, he says, sets laudable goals that will be too expensive to attain.

He says the fiscal analysis in the ordinance doesn’t take into account the potential costs. He shared his concerns with us during an interview at the time the council was considering the proposal.

“To develop a plan for us to implement, 2020 is the next 24 months, none of this is in our capital plan, our $800 million capital plan. These are over and above what our current sustainable implementation plan is. These would send the organization, financially, into a tailspin,” Condon said.

He also questions the wisdom of putting the power of creating a renewable energy plan in the hands of an unelected committee, rather than in the hands of city staff people who answer to elected officials.

The mayor acknowledges that the ordinance passed by a six-one margin, which would be enough to override the veto. He urged council members to work with him to set priorities for appropriate planning and investments in environmental projects.

Council President Ben Stuckart responded to the veto: "I think he makes many assumptions that are just not in the ordinance.  Disappointing that we will have to over ride yet another veto."