Arizona Solar Job Killing Bill Advances

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An unconstitutional bill, HB2789 that could kill 16,000 Arizona jobs and move millions of dollars in solar investment to other states has moved thought the state legislature and could be voted on Tuesday, March 20, 2012 or Wednesday, March 21, says Kuldrip Verma, CEO of Vermaland LLC. Opponents are asked to call their Representatives and ask them to vote no. To find your Representative go to: http://1.usa.gov/GAAQg9

Kuldrip Verma, CEO Vermaland LLC

Arizona needs sensible energy policies that demonstrate regulatory stability, take into account our competitive advantages, meet our power needs and provide a favorable climate for future job creators. HB 2789 does none of that.

Solar development could screech to a halt under HB 2789.

While HB 2789 may seem like just another legislative move, this bill could burn a hole in Arizona's future solar development, say its detractors.

The bill is an attempt by the Arizona Legislature to usurp the power of the Arizona Corporation Commission by capping the state's Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff (REST) at the current level 25 percent of its energy needs with renewables by 2025 and prohibit the ACC from ever increasing it.

Businesses who work in the renewable and related industries worry that as the state's utility companies approach that cap well ahead of 2025, they will find themselves without a market or opportunities, thus adding more people to the unemployment line.

A previous version of the bill was deemed unconstitutional by two legislative attorneys and the ACC legal staff, and changes made to the bill in the Senate are unlikely to make it any more acceptable to the courts, who have ruled five times the REST falls under the exclusive ratemaking authority of the ACC.

By Gov. Jan Brewer's own account, renewable energy is the top new job-creating industry in Arizona. Gov. Brewer, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council and others have attracted 12 solar-related companies to Arizona, overseen the start of hundreds of related businesses and 16,000 jobs. The legislation, worry solar proponents, could jackknife that success and send tens of millions, if not billions, of dollars to neighboring states.

"The Legislature should attract, not attack business," said Kuldip Verma, CEO Vermaland, LLC. Vermaland is one of the largest solar land development companies in Phoenix and one of the largest commercial landholders in Maricopa County.

"Arizona needs sensible energy policies that demonstrate regulatory stability, take into account our competitive advantages, meet our power needs and provide a favorable climate for future job creators. HB 2789 does none of that.

"Our company has invested heavily in solar. As our governor says, 'Solar is the brightest spot' in the Arizona economy."

Through extensive marketing, says Anita Verma, marketing director for Vermaland, the company has worked with more than 25 developers worldwide who are interested in building solar energy projects in Arizona.

The result, she says, is more than $30 million in signed option purchase agreements. Under HB 2789, Arizona would lose the employment and economic boost these solar projects provide to the Arizona businesses that manufacture and construct these facilities.

"It's not just my family-owned business that would suffer. Hundreds of Arizona-based solar, construction, engineering, electrical, real estate, banks and related businesses would lose as well. Like these other Arizona businesses, our profits pay salaries, suppliers and partners, insurance, federal, state and local taxes, and allow for investment in other projects, which triggers the cycle again," Kuldip said.

If HB 2789 becomes law, he believes that every developer he's worked with will terminate their agreements and move their projects to more solar-friendly states.

"Our investment in these new markets, made in good faith as the result of Constitutional acts by the Arizona Corporation Commission, will become business-threatening losses overnight," he said.

Kuldip joins many others who see the outlook as sunny for Arizona's solar industry and don't want legislators to undermine the market and thwart their success.    

Vermaland is one of the largest solar land development companies in Phoenix and one of the largest commercial landholders in Maricopa County. http://www.vermaland.com/

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