Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for March, 2016

EV Charging Hubs: Get It Right, Backers Say

by March 18th, 2016

New at Lens:

EV Charging Hubs: Get It Right, Backers Say.

Public-private partners who’ll be submitting bids for state grants within months will want to make sure they get the details right on new charging stations for electric vehicles in Washington. Multiple users should be served at the same time and the equipment needs to be more reliable.

Those were some of the take-aways yesterday from a public meeting (March 16) at the SeaTac Airport conference center. About 40 electric vehicle (EV) owners, advocates and officials attended.

It was first public meeting to gather suggestions on a new state program. The aim is to foster private sector backing of more fast-charging direct current stations along major highways in Washington. Sponsoring the meeting was the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).

Read the whole thing.

Lens: State Auditor “Bled, Broke, And Disrespected”

by March 17th, 2016

Recently, from Lens:

Bled, Broke And Disrespected: Tough Times For The Washington State Auditor.

How bad have things gotten in Washington state for the embattled State Auditor’s Office (SAO)? Really bad.

As in, the auditor is under indictment, the office’s performance audit budget is being raided yet again, and the legislature was going to great lengths to consider a bill to partially weaken the auditor’s powers.

Read the whole thing.

Lens: More Broadband for Rural Washington, Please!

by March 16th, 2016

New at Lens:

Broadband Internet For Economic Growth In Rural Washington: More Please!

Rosalia Mayor Nan Konishi sells hand-crafted furniture, when she’s not busy governing the town of about 550 residents in Whitman County, Washington near the border with Idaho. Konishi would like to sell items on her store’s website as well, but the town’s slow internet has been a deterrent. Rosalia is starting to plan for better broadband access.

“In today’s market if you’re not online, if you don’t have the online capabilities for promoting your business, your chances for success are really small,” Konishi said.

Broadband Internet For Economic Growth In Rural Washington: More Please!Read the whole thing.

Lens: The Real State Budget Battle Comes Next Year

by March 16th, 2016

From Lens:

Overtime Session Foreshadows an Even Bigger Budget Challenge in 2017.”

“As the state Legislature heads into a special session to conclude negotiations on mid-course adjustments to the $38 billion 2015-2017 state budget, some lawmakers are already looking to next year and the perfect storm they know may be waiting for them next year when a new biennial spending plan must be devised.”

Expected are “tougher circumstances in 2017 when a new budget will have to be hammered out under the shadow of the State Supreme Court’s McCleary ruling on fully funding K-12 education.” Perhaps adding complexity “are revenue forecasts and a potential recession. Some $3 billion to $4 billion will be the McCleary price tag…” A new K-12 funding task force lawmakers created will advise.

“…some statehouse sources have said that a 2017 McCleary deal is likely to include a net outflow of school tax monies from richer districts in and around Central Puget Sound to other parts of the state.The politically volatile scenario also includes state control of teacher salaries, although with cost of living variations for different locales.”

Read the whole thing.

Lens: Coal-By-Wire Phase-Out Eyed, But Coal Persists

by March 16th, 2016

From the new site Lens:

Washington Aims to Phase Out Montana Coal-By-Wire, But Coal Will Persist.

Key take-aways:

  • Puget Sound Energy has won support from Washington lawmakers to shift federal tax credits awarded to them for alternative energy projects away from a ratepayer return fund and to another fund the utility says is vital to protect ratepayers. That’d be a special account to pay for tear-down and clean up, in the 2020s probably, of the 1970s vintage Colstrip 1 and 2 coal-powered electricity plants in Montana.

  • PSE’s General Counsel told legislators: “We’re looking at the reality of Colstrip, at the fact that there is a life-end out there, at some point in time….We think it is incumbent upon us…to…minimize the ultimate costs to our customers.”

  • It’s an important acknowledgement of the inevitable declining role of coal in U.S. electricity production. But the appetite of the nation and Asia for U.S. coal will not soon subside, as shown by projections from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. And labor sees jobs, wages and economic growth accompanying a controversial coal export terminal proposed for Southwest Washington state.

  • Read the whole thing.