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The NAACP is launching a major environmental justice campaign on Jan. 13 to mark the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service.

The "Solar Equity Initiative" aims to provide solar job skills training to 100 individuals, install solar panels on more than 30 homes and community centers in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, and strengthen equity in solar access policies in at least five states.

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A photovoltaic array at the Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center in Montezuma County, Colorado. Dennis Schroeder / NREL

By Michael Hiatt

Colorado is now the 11th U.S. state to commit to the Paris climate agreement in a repudiation of the Trump administration's decision to walk away from the deal.

The growing revolt at the state level over Trump's climate policies reflects unwillingness among policymakers to turn away from years of work transitioning to clean energy. Colorado is a case in point. Gov. John Hickenlooper's recent executive order committing Colorado to meeting or exceeding the greenhouse gas reduction targets set in Paris follows regulatory developments that will propel the state toward a new clean energy economy.

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In a 4 to 1 vote this week, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) rejected a number of anti-solar rate proposals for customers of UNS Electric, Inc. Earthjustice and Vote Solar were among the groups working to maintain consumer solar options in the UNS rate case, which is one of five rate cases with major implications for solar power currently under way in Arizona.

This week's decision will keep the way clear for UNS Electric customers to go solar, delivering reliable power, cleaner air and local jobs to communities throughout Arizona. Shutterstock

"Today's vote will keep the way clear for UNS Electric customers to meet their own energy needs with homegrown solar power," Briana Kobor, Vote Solar's DG regulatory policy program director, said. "I appreciate the commission's commitment to reason, to stakeholder input and to the public interest through this critical decision about the future of solar energy in Arizona."

Utilities around the country have tried to restrict the growth of rooftop solar by implementing unreasonable and discriminatory fees, charges and other unfair rate changes. As part of its regular general rate case, UNS Electric, which serves more than 93,000 customers across Arizona, had proposed a suite of anti-solar measures, including mandatory demand charges, increasing the fixed charge by 50 percent and eliminating net metering, the critical policy that ensures consumers receive fair credit on their utility bills for contributing power to the electric grid.

Following a thorough assessment of testimony from diverse stakeholders, the ACC preserved net metering and rejected mandatory demand charges until after conclusion of a separate docket that is assessing the value of local solar power.

The ACC did approve a 50 percent increase to the fixed charge, which will impact solar and non-solar customers alike.

All in all, this week's decision will keep the way clear for UNS Electric customers to go solar, delivering reliable power, cleaner air and local jobs to communities throughout Arizona.

"This decision is great news for Arizona families and small businesses that plan on going solar and for everyone who breathes cleaner air as a result," Earthjustice attorney Michael Hiatt said. "The decision sends a powerful message to Arizona utilities that the commission will not simply rubberstamp their anti-solar agenda."

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