HB2701 | Arizona “Great Leap Backward for Solar Power” Passes Committee

If HB2701 passes Suntech may relocate first North American manufacturing plant by Chinese solar company

In a surreal scene yesterday afternoon, the Republican-dominated House Government Committee voted *5-to-2 to approve a bill that major business interests in the state had just testified against, portraying HB 2701 as a major jobs-killer in a state that has been one of the hardest hit by the current recession.

Back Door Attack

The bill adds “nuclear” power to the list of renewable energy sources that count toward Arizona’s Renewable Energy Standards (RES). Used by 32 states, an RES mandates that a certain percentage of a utility’s electricity be produced by renewable sources. (No other state counts existing nuclear power generation toward meeting an RES mandate.)

But even proponents of the bill say privately and sometimes publicly, that their intent has nothing to do with extending renewable incentives to nuclear power. A source working with pro-HB2701 legislators agreed with the assessment that what is really at issue is a “turf battle” between the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) that currently sets the RES and the legislature, which believes only it has that power.

Some speakers last night objected to being “caught in the middle” of the battle.

A Turf Fight – and More

But there is much more going on than feuding elements of government

A representative of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, speaking in favor of the bill, based his argument in part on doubts about the reality of climate change. Even if it exists, he said, he’d still back HB2701 because the bill would end government subsidies for all renewable energy sources.

Click on image to download bill (pdf)

Representative Steve Montenegro (R-12), a co-sponsor of the bill and a committee member, explained his support for the bill during yesterday’s hearing. “I’m a believer in the free market,” he said. “Solar should stand without having to be propped up,” by government incentives.

Democratic Rebuke

That drew sharp criticism from Democratic minority whip, Chad Campbell (D-14), also a member of the committee, who countered that all energy sources receive government subsidies of some sort.

“While we sit here and debate whether solar is viable,” Campbell added, “the rest of the world has already decided it is.”

The bill now moves to the House Committee on Rules, before heading to the floor for a full House vote.

(You can read more about the bill in an article I wrote for OnEarth magazine.)

*One of the no votes came from Republican Warde Nichols (District 21), a cosponsor of HB2701.

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3 thoughts on “HB2701 | Arizona “Great Leap Backward for Solar Power” Passes Committee

  1. I believe Maine did something similar (although I am very light on actual details), in that it defined renewable as including existing hydroelectric (which they have lots of), and they were immediately in compliance with more recently introduced renewable standards.

  2. This is ridiculous. Nuclear is NOT a renewable source, it comes from uranium, a FINITE resource that comes from the ground. If APS will automatially be in compliance with the 15% mandate by adding nuclear to the RES, than they will have no incentive for pushing forward solar, in a state that is absolutely 100% suited for solar energy! This is so frustrating. I’m so glad this representative of the Arizona Free Enterprise feels he is experienced enough in climate science to question the reality of climate change. Who is this person anyway? Why don’t we get his name?

  3. Pingback: Democratic Diva » Lawmakers act to save Arizona from the horror of solar energy and good paying jobs.

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