Dye bill to help cool heat-emitting cities gains Senate approval, heads to the governor

A bill authored by Rep. Mary Dye that would work to implement methods to cool heat-emitting Puget Sound cities, such as Seattle, has passed the state Senate and is on its way to the governor.

Dye says larger coastline cities retain heat from rooftops, pavement and other heat-absorbing materials, creating what is known as “urban heat islands.”

“During the summer, downtown Seattle can be as much as 17 degrees warmer than surrounding rural areas. These hotter temperatures not only affect the atmosphere, they also create flows into stormwater and sewage drains that flow into Puget Sound, resulting in algae and creating problems with fish survival,” said Dye, R-Pomeroy.

House Bill 1114 establishes a program involving municipal electric utilities, PUDs or investor-owned utilities that engage in tree-planting activities. It also allows the utilities to solicit and use voluntary donations from customers to fund tree-planting programs. In addition, it would authorize the Utilities and Transportation Commission to adopt a policy to incentivize investor-owned utilities' tree-planting programs and cool roof programs that improve the efficiency of energy use.

“This bill provides incentives to reduce the urban heat island effect. It's about improving quality of life in urban areas that experience extreme summer heat, and environmental and health impacts that can be significantly improved by strategic planting of trees,” added Dye, who serves as ranking Republican on the House Environment and Energy Committee. “If there are flat or low-pitch roofs, the use of reflective roof incentive programs can reduce the overall power load during warm days. The benefits are quality of life, better environment, energy savings and better air quality.”

The bill is modeled after a successful tree planting and cool-roof program implemented in 1991 by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District in California. It encourages municipal electric utilities and public utility districts to assist customers in the acquisition and installation of materials that would help reduce outdoor heat absorption and provide energy conservation. This would include tree plantings, as well as materials and equipment installed as part of a utility cool roof program.

“The Sacramento program provides a utility incentive in which customers can get rebates by participating and they save a lot on their power bills. Strategic planting of trees will create a cooler environment and reduce energy use, creating calmer, cooler cities,” noted Dye. “This is about making our state a better place to live. I'm very pleased this bill is heading to the governor.”

The measure passed the House and Senate unanimously.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov