A Call to Arms to Protect State Renewable Energy Laws and Policies

The war over renewable energy policies at the state level continues on many fronts. The 25x’25 Alliance and its stakeholder partners in each state are working hard to defend the critical policies – renewable portfolio standards, biofuel mandates and renewable electricity requirements, among them – that serve to insure the viability of this still relatively nascent sector.

At least 29 states and the District of Columbia have laws in place that require renewable energy sources meet certain levels of market share. Another six states have voluntary goals.

Meanwhile, some 40 pieces of legislation and two court cases designed to weaken or eliminate renewable energy policies are pending in more than two dozen states.

The 25x’25 Alliance has actively reached out and helped in amassing a defense again these efforts, coordinating a state ag and forestry partner awareness campaign in support of state RPS policies; sending out issue alerts to allies in the effected states; recruiting advocates to testify before state legislative committees; and helping prepare op-eds, letters to the editor and other media messages, among other efforts.

Currently on the front burner is legislation pending in the Florida legislature that would repeal a state renewable fuels standard. Opponents of the standard are citing long discredited food-versus-fuel arguments, not to mention engine performance and environmental impact myths that continue to be trotted out by “Big Oil” and the food processing industry. The measure was passed by a Florida House committee this week and will likely get through the House floor. However, the measure faces stiffer opposition in the state Senate, where renewable energy advocates are mustering support for the existing standard to protect investments made since the measure was adopted several years ago.

Some North Carolina legislators are attempting to move a bill that repeals the state’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS) enacted in 2007, essentially killing solar and wind development in the state.

In Texas, a bill has been introduced that would eliminate the state’s wind energy requirement, a 2015 goal that has already been met – the state is the nation’s leader in wind energy capacity – and could be increased. And the measure would strip the state’s Public Utility Commission of its authority to oversee an $82-million market in which credits for renewable energy are traded.

Virtually all of the opposition to these state policies comes from oil and other legacy energy interests, or is undertaken by those who claim that state governments should not pick “winners and losers” in the energy field. They assert that by eliminating renewable energy requirements, all types of energy, including natural gas and coal, along with renewable forms of energy, are allowed to compete on a level playing field.

Of course there is nothing level about that kind of playing field, given that the oil, gas and coal industries have been the beneficiaries of government tax credits and other state-provided policy advantages for decades.

Legislative and legal efforts from misguided or self-serving interests aiming to curb renewable energy development are not new, though this year appears to mark a heightened level of state-focused activity.

But in years past, those anti-renewable efforts have been beaten back. And it appears that renewable energy advocates, with the help of 25x’25, are having some success this year in fending off the misinformation and questionable motives that have targeted those policies critical to the development of sustainable energy resources that provide jobs, strengthen our national security and enhance our environment.

One example: Kansas’ 20-percent-by-2020 renewable energy portfolio standard was under attack in the state legislature through two bills, one repealing the standard and the other delaying it for up to four years. After a significant pushback from renewable energy advocates in the state, including a letter to the editor of the Wichita Eagle from Kansas Farm Bureau President Steve Baccus, both measures were turned back by state lawmakers.

These state level skirmishes are part of an ongoing, relentless battle that requires vigilance and active participation in each debate from all advocates of clean, sustainable energy for this country. The 25x’25 Alliance strongly urges its partners in these states to share with policy makers the knowledge that renewable energy laws and policies benefit their states by providing needed income, good jobs and steady investments in the states they have been enacted.

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