Jeopardy! clue highlights absurd Washington state policy

Oct 12, 2015

If you're a contestant on Jeopardy!, you must answer in the form of question. But an answer in Double Jeopardy from a program last week just led to more questions.


The answer: "Washington leads all states by getting 76% of its electricity from this renewable method."

The correct question, of course: "What is hydropower?"

The problem: Washington state law doesn't recognize our clean, renewable hydropower as a clean, renewable power source.

In 2006, Washington voters passed Initiative 937, the Energy Independence Act, requiring utilities in Washington to increase conservation and to get 15% of their power from qualifying renewable energy sources by the year 2020.

In addition to imposing conservation and renewable energy requirements, Initiative 937 narrowly defined which energy sources count as renewable. Although the initiative recognizes water as a renewable resource, it limits the amount of hydroelectric power that utilities can count as renewable.

WPC has long recommended that the definition of "renewable energy" under the Initiative 937 law be broadened to include hydroelectric and other non-carbon sources, so that all renewable sources are equally recognized as helping the environment. Such a change would reduce costs for power customers and promote additional technologies that reduce carbon emissions.

Even Jeopardy! researchers know hydropower is a clean, renewable power source.  

For our state, it's an answer that shouldn't be a question.