by Jim Nintzel
Ignoring threats by a company to pack up and leave, a House panel voted late Tuesday to overturn the renewable energy mandate on utilities by the Arizona Corporation Commission.
HB2701 strips utility regulators of their authority to impose such requirements. In its place, it puts in a different mandate, this one crafted by Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Glendale.
But the mandate is full of loopholes that, in essence, would undo the commission order requiring utilities to generate at least 15 percent of their power by 2025 from solar, wind, geothermal and other renewable sources.
The 5-2 vote by the House Government Committee came even after Polly Shaw, lobbyist for Suntech Power Holdings, said her firm is likely to reconsider its decision announced just last month to build a solar panel manufacturing plant in Goodyear.
She told lawmakers that the decision to locate in Arizona was based in large part on the renewable energy requirements in the commission’s directive. Shaw said HB2701 effectively makes them meaningless.
“Voluntary goals don’t build solar projects,” Shaw said, saying investors want “concrete market certainty” that the products will sell. That mandate includes not only a requirement that some of the renewable energy come from solar, but that part of that come from “distributed generation,” which essentially means individual homes and businesses installing photovoltaic solar panels on their roofs.
“Broadening the definition of renewable to include nuclear and hydro power will gut the renewable standard,” Shaw testified.
“It will obliterate demand for solar,” she continued. “And it will eliminate the reason we selected Arizona.”