In the ongoing and odd ideological battle against renewable energy, the Goldwater Institute has serially tried to invalidate Arizona’s renewable energy rules, saying the Arizona Corporation Commission didn’t have the authority,  God and the Constitution demand the mythical unsubsidized coal, perhaps a communist plot hmm?, yadada, etc.

The AZ Court of Appeals just told them to go pound sand.  The ruling, here (pdf).

Underlying this legal victory is a re-affirmation of the value of renewable energy to Arizona.  The court essentially found that the Commission acted in the public interest, and had a robust record to back it up. From the ruling:

“The record here establishes a sufficient nexus between the REST rules and ratemaking. Prophylactic measures designed to prevent adverse effects on ratepayers due to a failure to diversify electrical energy sources fall within the Commission’s power “to lock the barn door before the horse escapes.” Id. Indeed, as Woods found in the context of inter-company transactions, “[i]t would subvert the intent of the framers to limit the Commission’s ratemaking powers so that it could do no more than raise utility rates to cure the damage. Id. at 296, 830 P.2d at 817.”

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There are several ironies here — the first being that Barry Goldwater, a famous champion of competitive enterprise, was also a champion of strong government action in the fight against pollution for the public good.  The other is the fact that renewable energy offers one of the brightest opportunities for Arizona’s economy.  This represents a win for both the environment and the economy.

“While I am a great believer in the free competitive enterprise system and all that it entails, I am an even stronger believer in the right of our people to live in a clean and pollution-free environment. To this end, it is my belief that when pollution is found, it should be halted at the source, even if this requires stringent government action against important segments of our national economy.”

Many thanks to Tim Hogan of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest for taking this on.

This entry is crossposted at Vote Solar’s blog.

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