Clean energy supporters in Arizona are swinging into action to defeat a new bill that would set up a huge roadblock to progress on renewable energy and energy efficiency. (If you live in Arizona, click here to send an email to legislators opposing this solar setback.)
Just introduced by Representative Debbie Lesko, HB 2789 would require the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) — the publicly elected body that has sole authority to regulate power rates under the State Constitution — to get approval from a majority in the Legislature before it can approve or amend programs or policies that would advance renewable energy or energy efficiency. This would add a layer of government regulation with no benefit for Arizonans, who not only directly elect ACC Commissioners but also already have the opportunity to provide comment throughout the ACC decisionmaking process.
In fact, this bill is a thinly veiled attempt to squash progress on clean energy and energy efficiency. Representative Lesko has a history of opposing renewables: see, for example, her failed attempt to pass a bill that would have allowed nuclear energy to count as renewable. In recent years, the ACC has enacted strong new policies like the Renewable Energy Standard that have made Arizona the clean energy powerhouse it is today. But if Lesko’s bill becomes the law of the land, the ACC’s hands will be needlessly tied by a new requirement to first get majority support in both houses of the legislature. That sets up a huge roadblock to the kinds of changes that will be needed to make a clean energy future real in Arizona, and will surely lead to time-consuming and costly lawsuits over who has proper authority.
Poll after poll shows that the vast majority of Arizonans want to build the state’s economy by investing more in solar and other renewables. Passage of HB 2789 would severely hamper the ability of future ACC Commissioners, including those elected in November 2012, to enact public policy that matches the interests of Arizona ratepayers. Members of the House Energy and Natural Resources committee are set to vote on the bill on Monday, Feb 13. Stay tuned!
Vote Solar is a non-profit grassroots organization working to fight climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the mainstream.