Conservative group gunning for state renewable mandates

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A coalition of businesses and conservative state legislators is aiming to eliminate state-level renewable energy standards.

The American Legislative Exchange Council last month approved a model bill that would end requirements that utilities generate a set amount of electricity from renewable sources, such as wind and solar. ALEC connects businesses and state lawmakers to push free-market legislation, and state lawmakers who are members of ALEC often introduce the model bills in their home legislatures.

ALEC board members approved the “Electricity Freedom Act” model bill Oct. 18.

Todd Wynn, who directs ALEC’s energy, environment and agriculture task force, said the outcome of state-level elections tomorrow would help determine where the model bill is likely to be introduced. But he pointed to Ohio and Michigan — both of which have Republican governors not up for re-election — as likely to be among the first states where legislatures attempt to enact it. Ohio has a 12.5 percent by 2024 renewable portfolio standard, while Michigan’s RPS requires 10 percent renewable electricity by 2025.

“For the past couple years, state legislatures are becoming increasingly aware of [RPS requirements], and the debates have been ramping up on repealing renewable energy mandates because of the costs of such measures,” Wynn said in an interview this afternoon.

Renewable energy supporters say RPS requirements do not drive up the cost of energy, arguing they have helped reduce the costs of wind and solar power in recent years without appreciably increasing utility bills.

ALEC adopted the model resolution after more than a year of internal debate that featured some resistance from corporate members who are involved in the renewable industry, Wynn said. The group’s membership also includes oil, natural gas and coal companies as well as utilities that would have to comply with RPS requirements.

ALEC does not release the names of its corporate members, who also are the group’s primary funders. The liberal group Common Cause, which is one of ALEC’s chief critics, earlier this year publicized documents it said it obtained from an ALEC whistle-blower, including a membership list.

Companies that participated in an energy task force included American Electric Power, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Peabody Energy, according to Common Cause. Following anti-ALEC efforts launched by Common Cause and other groups, several companies left ALEC, including General Electric Co. and Entergy.