Amidst Major Solar Battle, Arizona’s Largest Utility Quietly Renews ALEC Membership

India Solar Power

CREDIT: AP Photo/Gurinder Osan

As hearings begin to determine the fate of Arizona’s booming solar industry, Arizona Public Service, the state’s largest utility, quietly renewed its membership in the corporate anti-clean energy group the American Legislative Exchange Council after publicly leaving it in 2012.

APS spokesman Jim McDonald told the Arizona Capitol Times the utility pays $7,000 in membership fees and an additional $3,000 to have a seat on ALEC’s Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force. “ALEC is a pro-business organization. We support lots of pro-business organizations,” McDonald said. “We’re a proud member of ALEC.”

ALEC’s ‘pro-business’ backers feature a host of corporations and individuals opposed to clean energy, including numerous fossil fuel interests and the billionaire ultra-conservative Koch brothers. In 2012, the organization set its sights on clean energy and tried to repeal states’ renewable energy laws and despite failing in every instance, shows no intention of relenting.

In Arizona, Arizona Public Service is currently embroiled in a major fight over solar energy and on Wednesday the state’s energy regulator, Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), will begin hearings into how much customers should be compensated for the energy produced by solar panels installed on their homes and businesses. Solar advocates argue that if the policy, known as net metering, is altered to charge consumers more, it could deal a death-blow to their rapidly growing industry.

In addition to their ALEC membership, APS has come under fire recently after admitting that it had been secretly contributing to outside nonprofits running negative ads against solar power, namely the Koch-backed group “60 Plus.”

And the ACC has its own connections to the conservative, anti-clean energy group. A Think Progress analysis found four of the five commissioners have ties to ALEC, including Commissioner Robert Burns who recently …read more



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