- Colorado’s renewables mandate does not violate interstate commerce laws and discriminate against out of state coal suppliers, according to a landmark unanimous decision from the U.S.10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
- Colorado's renewable electricity standard (RES) does not attempt to regulate activities outside of the state in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s commerce clause, the court decided, throwing out charges from the Energy and Environment Legal Institute (EELI), which claimed the mandate unfairly burdened coal producer Alpha Natural Resources and other members.
- The decision found the 30% renewables by 2020 mandate for investor-owned utilities and 10% to 20% by 2020 mandate for electric cooperatives and municipal utilities limits all fossil fuel producers undiscriminatingly and favors all renewables providers undiscriminatingly.
EELI, previously known as the American Tradition Institute, brought the suit against the state in 2011. The federal district court for Colorado's earlier ruling, affirmed by the Court of Appeals in this case, found EELI had "utterly failed" to show any burdens were excessive compared to local benefits.
The plaintiff’s attorney said there would be no appeal to the Supreme Court. But two other commerce clause arguments remain and may force another lawsuit, according to the decision.
Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell attorney John Putnam argued on behalf of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission for the Interwest Energy Alliance, with Will Allen of the Colorado Attorney General’s office, Solar Energy Industries Association attorney Neil Levine, Earthjustice attorneys Michael Freeman and Michael Hiatt, and Western Resource Advocates attorney Erin Overturf.
Colorado’s mandate was the first in the U.S. approved by popular vote. Once it was in place, the state grew some 7,000 renewbles-associated jobs, including jobs at 22 renewables-associated manufacturing facilities. There are 28 states with renewables mandates. Hawaii, California, Nevada, Colorado, Minnesota, Connecticut, and Oregon all target 25% or more renewables.