By Christopher Martin, April 23, 2013. Source: Bloomberg
More than half the U.S. states with laws requiring utilities to buy renewable energy are considering ways to pare back those mandates after a plunge in natural gas prices brought on by technology that boosted supply.
Sixteen of the 29 states with renewable portfolio standards are considering legislation that would reduce the need for wind and solar power, according to researchers backed by the U.S. Energy Department. North Carolina lawmakers may be among the first to move, followed by Colorado and Connecticut.
The efforts could benefit U.S. utilities such as Duke Energy Corp (DUK). and PG&E Corp (PCG). as well as Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM)., the biggest U.S. oil producer, and Peabody Energy Corp (BTU)., the largest U.S. coal mining company. Those companies contributed to at least one of the lobby groups pushing the change, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, a Madison, Wisconsin-based non-profit group. It would hurt wind turbine maker Vestas Wind Systems A/S (VWS) and First Solar Inc (FSLR)., which develops solar farms.
“We’re opposed to these mandates, and 2013 will be the most active year ever in terms of efforts to repeal them,” said Todd Wynn, task force director for energy of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or Alec, a lobby group pushing for the change. “Natural gas is a clean fuel, and regulators and policy makers are seeing how it’s much more affordable than renewable energy.”