Renewable Energy Wins In Colorado, Iowa, Loses in Ohio

As conservatives continue their quest to dismantle renewable energy in the US, a court ruling in Colorado should make it easier to fight off those attempts.

A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Colorado’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) has been dismissed by US District judge, William Martinez.

The "Energy and Environment Legal Institute" alleged that requiring utilities to source a percentage of renewable energy violates the dormant commerce clause – unlawfully regulating fossil fuels from out-of-state.

If the judge had ruled in their favor, it would have rippled across all 29 states that have a RPS. Whew!!

Judge Martinez’s ruling states, "Out-of-state companies are free to generate electricity using whatever method they choose, can sell that electricity to whomever they choose – inside or outside of Colorado – and can do so at whatever price they choose. The RPS does not control any aspect of a transaction between two out-of-state entities; it governs only whether electricity purchased by a Colorado utility counts towards that utility’s renewables quota." 

Plaintiffs, of course, will repeal.

Even if renewable energy wins the day, these constant threats may prevent states from expanding their RPS or implementing it all if they don’t yet have one. 

Solar at Denver Airport:

Solar Denver Airport

Saga Continues State to State

So far, legislative challenges to state RPSs lost in Kansas – even where Koch Industries is headquartered – but they diluted net metering. A solar surcharge passed in Oklahoma and Arizona, while Vermont strengthened net metering; and Indiana ended its popular energy efficiency program. 

Last week, at 1AM and after 20 hours of debate, Ohio‘s Senate voted to freeze the RPS and Energy Efficiency standard for the next two years, while a committee decides its fate. Bill 310 passed along party lines after being voted in almost unanimously in 2008. It’s expected to pass easily in the House.

Ohio’s RPS requires 12.5% renewable energy by 2025, along with energy efficiency programs. Since 2008, it’s brought $1 billion in private investment to the state, saved $1 billion on electric bills and created 25,000 jobs, says the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Governor Kasich is up for re-election this year and could veto the bill; his Democrat opponent is campaigning in favor of strong clean energy standards. 

Missouri is deciding whether to renew the fund that gives rebates for solar, after its $175 million fund is fully tapped out in the popular program. When it started, the state had just 39 MW, now it has 110 MW, and the solar industry has been expanding there.  

In contrast, Iowa voted to triple its tax credit fund for solar – almost unanimously – to $4.5 million a year, while raising the rebate cap for residential projects (from $3,000 to $5,000) and for commercial projects (from $15,000 to $20,000).

"With the possibility of a $20,000 credit for each location with a solar installation, the day is coming when it will be the norm to put solar into a business project. I think we’re getting very close to that point," State Senator Rob Hogg told Midwest Energy News. The state is now pushing solar forward the same way it so successfully became a wind leader.

Read the full story about Colorado:

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