Why is the Right attacking clean energy?

Posted by Pete Danko, EarthTechling

Attempts to roll back state renewable energy standards failed in recent legislative sessions, but the folks behind the efforts apparently aren’t giving up.

Representatives of three progressive groups on Wednesday said [PDF] newly obtained documents show that the American Legislative Exchange Council is readying a new  “anti-clean energy model bill” that could spearhead the next round of attacks.

image via Obama for America

image via Obama for America

ALEC has been around for years as an alliance between private industry and conservative state legislators, writing model pro-business legislation aimed at state governments around the country. Supporters have ranged from fossil-fuel interests like Koch Industries and Exxon Mobil to companies outside the energy sector, such as Coca-Cola, UPS and eBay. Last year, ALEC”s work on controversial “stand your ground” and voter-ID laws led some members to jump ship. The Solar Energy Industries Association ended its membership when the assault on renewable portfolio standardswas revealed.

That effort was based on model legislation dubbed the “Electricity Freedom Act,” which led with this stark summary:

The Electricity Freedom Act repeals the State of {insert state}’s requirement that electric distribution utilities and electric services companies provide _____ percent of their electricity supplies from renewable energy sources by ____.

It didn’t work.

Colorado Energy News, citing research by the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University, recently reported that “(w)hile more than 30 states voted on or considered legislation this session to change their Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), only eight have enacted modifications or increases to existing policies and no state has rolled back an existing standard to date.”

According to the documents revealed by Checks & Balances Project, Center for Media & Democracy and Greenpeace, this time around ALEC plans to be a little less obvious about its intentions, pushing something called the “Market-Power Renewable Act” [PDF]. The model law would allow electricity providers to meet their renewable energy requirements with the purchase of renewable energy credits (RECs), including out-of-state credits. In addition, existing large hydropower plants, biomass and biogas plants would joined the list of eligible sources.

“Including electricity sources from out-of-state or from large, existing hydropower plants would go against the spirit and purpose of the laws in many states to increase the incentive for local clean energy development,” the progressive organizations said. The ALEC model bill would also end renewable energy requirements after 2025.

ALEC maintains that it isn’t opposed to renewable energy, but simply ”believes that free markets in energy produce more options, more energy, lower prices and less economic disruptions.” The organization says, further, that “mandates to transform the energy sector and use renewable energy sources place the government in the unfair position of choosing winners and losers, keeping alive industries that are dependent on special interest lobbying.”

Pete Danko, EarthTechling