For the first time a court of law has disqualified trash burning as a non-renewable energy source. The Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter in Arizona has been victorious in its challenge to the Arizona Corporation Commission’s ruling that trash burning could qualify for renewable energy credits.
On July 16, the Maricopa County Superior Court ruled that the Commission erred and abused its discretion in deciding to give renewable energy credits to the Mohave Electric Cooperative for the project it planned near Phoenix by the Reclamation Power Group.
The Sierra Club argued that burning trash to produce power was not a use intended under the state’s renewable energy standard, and that funds should be redirected to support truly renewable energy resources such as wind and solar. The Sierra Club filed a lawsuit last September challenging the Commission’s decision to allow trash burning to be considered a renewable energy resource.
“This decision is good news for clean renewable energy such as solar and wind,” said Sandy Bahr, director of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon chapter. “Promoting polluting and dated technologies such as burning trash to produce electricity would be a step backward for Arizona’s renewable energy programs.”
ILSR’s Brenda Platt worked with Jeff Morris of Sound Resource Management in preparing expert testimony for the case and assisting the Sierra Club and the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest in its analysis and submissions. According to Brenda Platt, “This is a critical precedent as state renewable energy incentives perversely subsidize trash burners, making it more difficult for non-burn and safer reuse, recycling, and composting options to compete. Now in Arizona this money can support legitimate renewable energy systems. Trash is not renewable.”
The average value of a renewable energy credit in 2010 in Massachusetts was between $20 and $40 per MWh. (“Burning Recycling, “Resource Recycling, May 2013.)
For more information on the Arizona decision, view:
Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter & Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest press release.
Arizona News Tribune July 16th article, “Judge rules burning trash isn’t renewable energy” here.
Arizona Star Net July 16th article: “Maricopa Superior Court: Trash burning not a renewable resource – Utility Can’t Use Incineration to Meet Mandate, Judge Says” here.
For information and fact sheets on ILSR’s 2011 work in Maryland fighting the weakening of that state’s renewable portfolio standards, go to:
Trash Is Not Renewable
For additional data on the environmental, energy, and climate problems posed by trash incineration, see ILSR’s 2008 report, Stop Trashing the Climate.