The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has taken a step that any self-respecting supporter of renewable energy should do – ditched the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). This relationship looked a lot like the fabled one between the scorpion and tortoise.
Despite members such as the SEIA and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), ALEC has decided to make a nationwide push to roll back renewable energy portfolio standards (RPS) that have been enacted in many states. The RPS sets a percentage of electricity consumed that must be derived from renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar. The Texas RPS, passed in 1999, has helped propel the state into its role and a wind industry leader. At one point last month, the ERCOT electric grid (which encompasses most of Texas) was getting 26% of its power from wind turbines.
It pleases me to see good organizations such as SEIA leaving the backward notions of ALEC behind and I hope that other well-meaning organizations, businesses and elected officials will take a hard look at the facts and do the same. ALEC has perverted the legislative process to suit its needs. Model bills are developed behind closed doors to fit certain member industry desires and are then pushed for adoption in as many states as possible. Of course, as SEIA has likely discovered, not all members are equal and its the big boys that get to make the rules of the game.
Numerous polls and studies show widespread support for renewable energy, but nothing speaks so loud as money. Only when the coffers at ALEC dry up will they stop pushing this kind of backward legislation.
It remains to be seen whether ALEC’s effort to repeal the RPS will gain any traction in Texas. Here’s to hoping that saner heads prevail and send ALEC packing.