Unions Use California’s Environmental Laws to Hinder Solar Energy Projects

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Here is extensive primary source evidence to show that construction trade unions are hindering solar energy projects in California with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the Power Plant Site Certification Program of the Warren-Alquist Act.

Here is a compilation of union involvement with proposed solar thermal power projects:

Did Unions Hasten Demise of California’s Solar Thermal Power Plants? – www.UnionWatch.org – July 16, 2013

Here is a compilation of union involvement with proposed solar photovoltaic power projects:

Unions Extensively Interfere with California Solar Photovoltaic Power Plant Permitting – www.UnionWatch.org – July 20, 2013

I asserted in an October 8, 2007 opinion piece in the Los Angeles Business Journal (Union Staffing Dims Market for Solar Panels) that the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) union “is the first and only organization in California to find staggering environmental problems with solar power. If the union can’t monopolize the construction of solar facilities it seeks to obstruct solar energy opportunities for everyone else.”

In the opinion piece, I cite an example from June 2007 of California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE) filing requests as an official “intervenor” for the proposed Victorville 2 Solar Hybrid Power Plant for the applicant to provide massive amounts of data to the California Energy Commission. This was the first of 16 proposed large solar thermal power projects in California following the enactment of the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

I also cite an early example from July 2007 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union No. 100 trying to use the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to block approval of a proposed solar photovoltaic project at Fresno International Airport. This was among the first of the rush of proposed solar PV power projects following the enactment of the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

Have unions continued to oppose solar power projects since then? Absolutely. My assertion about unions (especially the IBEW) acting as a chief obstacle to solar power has been confirmed.

I concluded my 2007 op-ed by declaring that state legislators and other elected officials should not allow the IBEW to interfere with the permitting of solar projects for the purpose of winning Project Labor Agreements or other union guarantees for construction and maintenance. Regrettably, the practice has continued without any serious legislative or regulatory efforts to restrict it.

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