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Corp. Comm approves slightly altered trash-incinerator waiver

.The Arizona Corporation Commission today approved a waiver for a western Arizona utility to receive renewable energy credits for energy generated by a Phoenix-area waste-to-energy plant.

Though the Mohave Electric Cooperative, which sought the waiver, requested the plant be granted full credit for the power it generated, Commission Chairman Gary Pierce offered an amendment that dictated that the amount of credit the plant received be based on the percentage of energy it generates from biogenic sources. Mohave Electric has estimated that 91 percent of the power will come from biogenic sources.

“I believe this is a rational way to reign this in, depending on how this performs,” Pierce said.

The plant, which will be built by Reclamation Power Group LLC, would potentially sell energy to Mohave Electric, although Mohave Electric attorney Michael Curtis told commissioners there was no set contract and the utility would only buy the power if it proved to be cost-effective.

Although environmental groups opposed the plant, arguing that it will create air and water pollution, RPG president Ron Blendu argued during today’s testimony that garbage is a renewable resource.

“Man has been generating waste since we existed,” he told commissioners. “I don’t anticipate waste going away.”

The measure was approved by a party line vote, with Republicans Pierce, Brenda Burns and Bob Stump voting in favor and Democrats Paul Newman and Sandra Kennedy voting against it.

Throughout the meeting, Newman was outspoken about his objection both to the project and the proceedings, arguing that Pierce was denying the commissioners their due process by putting time limits on their questions for witnesses.

“We’re sitting on the hottest solar properties in the United States,” Newman said, “and we’re taking a limited amount of renewable energy credits from the solar pool to experiment with burning garbage that will create bad things that go into the air.”

Newman and Kennedy ran for office in 2008 on a platform of increasing the use of solar energy in Arizona.

But Burns argued that it was important for the state to utilize all renewable energy technology rather than “putting all of our eggs in one basket.”

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