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Solar Industry Fights Arizona Bill That Favors Nuclear, Hydro

SolarCityBitumenRoofSolarCity, Kyocera Solar and Suntech Power Holdings, together with other solar energy providers, are opposed to Arizona House Bill 2701 (HB 2701) stating it would jeopardize Arizona’s renewable energy industry by allowing nuclear and hydroelectric power to meet RES requirements and by setting up a more burdensome regulatory scheme.

HB 2701 would replace the existing Renewable Energy Standard (RES) in Arizona, allowing utilities to use existing nuclear and hydroelectric power to meet the RES requirements, and eliminating distributed generation requirements and any interim requirements between now and 2025, according to the group.

The bill also calls for a “double regulation” scheme for solar companies and utilities, replacing the current system of regulation by the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) with an approach that includes the Arizona State Legislature together with the ACC. If the bill passes, Arizona will have more government regulation of solar companies and utilities than any other state, according to the group.

“This ‘double regulation’ by both the ACC and then the Legislature will be both confusing and cost prohibitive,” said Lyndon Rive, SolarCity’s CEO, in a statement. “In addition, allowing existing nuclear and hydroelectric power facilities to satisfy Arizona utilities’ renewable energy requirements would freeze the development of renewable energy projects indefinitely and put Arizona’s entire renewable energy industry at serious risk. If HB 2701 is passed into law, it could shut down many solar companies in the state.’

Thanks to Arizona’s state government work to attract renewable energy companies to the state, a number of leading solar companies have expanded in Arizona, creating new jobs to replace those recently lost due to the recession.

In 2008 alone, Arizona announced plans that would make the state home to one of the largest solar power installations at any U.S. university and one of the world’s largest solar facilities built by Arizona Public Service.

Arizona was also cited by AWEA as one of the states with the fastest growth rate in wind power projects in the third quarter of 2009.

But if HB2701 passes, Arizona would lose solar jobs and most likely lose billions of federal dollars available to spur investments in renewable energy, according to the group.

As an example, Suntech Power Holdings says the bill would force the company to reconsider its decision to build its first U.S. factory in Goodyear, Ariz.

Similarly, Kyocera, which established its U.S. solar headquarters in Arizona in 1999, says the bill undermines the progress made to create “green” jobs and would be a major setback to Arizona’s reputation as a solar industry leader.

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