Conservative group to resume efforts to weaken state policies — activists

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, August 1, 2013

Liberal activist groups today released model legislation they said was drawn up by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council to weaken state renewable energy policies.

ALEC last year and earlier this year pushed several efforts to repeal state-level renewable portfolio standards in places like North Carolina and Kansas, but none was successful (Greenwire, June 3). Most state legislatures have adjourned for the year, and the group is rejiggering its efforts for a renewed push to limit renewable purchasing mandates when states reconvene next year, according to the documents.

Greenpeace, the Checks and Balances Project, and the Center for Media and Democracy today released an agenda for ALEC’s annual meeting in Chicago next week and copies of model bills that will be considered there. ALEC is a coalition of state legislators and a variety of private businesses that exists to promote “free market” principles at the state level. It produces model bills that are often introduced essentially verbatim in many states.

The new legislation to be considered at next week’s meeting includes two model energy bills, the “Market-Power Renewables Act” and the “Renewable Energy Credit Act.” The bills generally are aimed at expanding electric utilities’ ability to comply with state RPS requirements by purchasing renewable energy credits (RECs).

RPS laws differ slightly from state to state. The activists say ALEC’s model bills would weaken the laws by allowing RECs generated out of state or from sources such as hydroelectric dams that may not have initially qualified under state RPS laws.

“It would eliminate incentives for in-state investments in clean energy that are creating jobs and economic opportunities,” Gabe Elsner of the Checks and Balances Project said on a conference call today.

ALEC also will consider internal model resolutions putting it on record opposing a carbon tax and endorsing a set of principles to guide efforts to modernize the electric grid, including the need for cost-benefit analysis, the importance of advanced meters and the need to ensure physical and digital security of the grid.

An ALEC representative was not immediately available for comment this afternoon.