Published on March 2nd, 2010 | by Susan Kraemer14
Big Solar Kills Kill-Solar Bill
Arizona’s solar future has been under attack from the state’s Republican majority in the sunniest state in the union with several attempts to repeal the state requirement that utilities generate more of their power from renewable sources.
Yet yesterday, Rep. Debbie Lesko (R) quietly dropped a bill to slow the sunshine state’s 15% Renewable Energy Standard – that had 51 co-sponsors.
It was not the first attempt by Republican lawmakers in the state to kill the Renewable Energy Standard (RES). The very conservative Goldwater Institute is behind a Republican bill – HB 2381 – that forbids setting any renewable energy requirements – after the group lost a lawsuit attempting to overturn the RES itself.
And Arizona’s new Republican Governor recently unplugged a regional cap and trade plan that the state originally pioneered under it’s very progressive former governor, Janet Napolitano.
But this Republican attempt to kill clean energy in Arizona was thwarted. By a Chinese solar company.
China’s Suntech Power Holdings Company, one of the largest solar module manufacturers in the world, said the proposal would undermine Arizona’s efforts to attract new solar firms to the state, and it immediately threatened to withdraw its own planned 100,000 square foot PV plant, in particular. It would have been the first Suntech Power Holdings, Company PV plant in the USA.
Oddly enough, Lesko’s bill is quite mild in comparison with the much more dangerous Goldwater Institute-inspired legislation and the recent walkout of the regional Climate Action Plan. The new bill also seems fairly reasonable compared with Federal level Republican opposition to renewable energy policy.
State Republicans merely want to add nuclear and hydro power in the 15% renewable standard. With no water in the state, (and nuclear needs a lot of water), those don’t seem like game changers for solar chances to this reader. But Suntech’s Polly Shaw testified that the change would gut the renewable energy requirement and eliminate the reason for Suntech’s choice of Arizona for its first US PV manufacturing plant.
The RES includes a requirement that some of the renewable power come from distributed generation from homeowner’s rooftops; which is key to the proposed PV plant returning a good yield for investors.
Suntech claimed that their investors would simply abandon its project without the “concrete market certainty” of the RES pushing solar to the forefront. And the legislature blinked. Till now only dirty energy industry has dictated our energy policy through Rush, Limbaugh and Fox in addition to direct payments to congress, including over $2 million for Senator Inhofe alone. But perhaps this marks the first example of the growing power of the new clean energy industry.
Big Solar just killed a kill-solar bill!