Energy from burning trash is ‘renewable,’ court says

By David Wichner, Arizona Daily Star. 

An Arizona utility can burn trash and claim the electricity it generates is coming from renewable resources, the state Court of Appeals has ruled.

The judges rejected arguments by the Sierra Club that the Arizona Corporation Commission acted illegally in concluding the Mohave Electric Cooperative could meet part of its renewable-energy mandate through trash. They said it is up to the commission to decide what is renewable, a decision they did not want to second-guess.

In upholding the commission’s 2011 vote, the court also overturned a 2013 ruling by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Crane McClennen. He concluded that the commission violated its own rules in concluding power from incinerators burning waste could be considered “renewable.”

Thursday’s ruling, unless overturned, should clear the way for Mohave Electric to meet part of its renewable energy mandate through power generated from a proposed plant near Surprise. But it also paves the way for other utilities to propose incineration of trash to meet their own mandates.