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Bill to Classify Nuclear as Renewable Energy Killed

Phoenix Business Journal - by Patrick O'Grady 

A bill that would have put the legislature in charge of the state's renewable energy standard was pulled Thursday following a blitz by solar industry officials and local governments. House Bill 2701 was killed two days after hearing from several solar companies, including Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd., which threatened to abandon plans to locate a factory in Goodyear.

The bill was seen as a potential showdown with the Arizona Corporation Commission, which had set standards requiring state utilities get 15 percent of their energy from renewable sources such as solar and wind by 2025. Provisions included the classification of nuclear power as a renewable.

Solar industry officials said the bill had the potential to gut the industry in the state. Other companies protesting the bill were First Solar and Arizona Public Service Co.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer issued a statement thanking bill sponsor Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Glendale, for pulling the bill from consideration.

"This sends a clear and united message to employers around the world — Arizona remains the premier destination for solar industries," Brewer said in the statement.

In a separate statement released late Thursday, House Speaker Kirk Adams, R-Mesa, said the Legislature has been unfairly criticized as being anti-solar, but has done several things in the past year to bolster the industry's efforts.

In particular, Adams pointed to SB 1403, a law passed last year that provided incentives for bringing high-wage manufacturing to the state. The law has been used by the Greater Phoenix Economic Council as pitch to lure companies.

"The passage last year of SB 1403 further propelled Arizona to the forefront internationally as an attractive location for renewable energy companies," he said. "Even so, we have not rested on our past accomplishments and continue to move forward with legislation like HB2060. This legislation will provide additional incentives for renewable energy and send a clear message to global industries: we want you in Arizona."

The two-week fight over the bill may already have inflicted damage on Arizona's chances to land at least one company, China's Yingli Green Energy. The Austin Business Journal, sister paper of the Phoenix Business Journal, reported on its Web site Thursday that Yingli was offered a contract with the Texas city to locate its manufacturing facility there.

Yingli, while not publicly committed to Arizona, had received a federal tax credit from the U.S. Department of Energy to locate in Arizona. The company potentially could lose millions in the credit if it switches states, as DOE officials said the grants cannot be transferred.