Republican Utility Regulators Are Hellbent on Destroying Arizona Solar Power

In a state with the second-highest sun peak hours in America, at the most climate-critical time in world history—life as we know it hanging in the balance–the Arizona Corporation Commission is hellbent on destroying Arizona solar and renewable energy businesses—critical for mitigating global warming.

More than 260,000 Arizonans have rooftop solar, and over 8,000 are employed in the solar industry, with both numbers increasing as the climate crisis escalates.

On a 4-1 party-line vote on February 9th, the ACC instructed its staff to draft rules repealing the Renewable Energy Standard adopted in 2006. The standard required Arizona utilities to generate 15% of their energy from renewable sources by 2025.

And if that weren’t enough, the same four Republicans moved closer to repealing the energy efficiency standards adopted 15 years ago requiring electric and gas utilities to show 22% energy savings by 2020 (long passed and not met). If they can’t meet the mandated goals, no problem, they’ll just repeal the law.

Trumpeting the logical fallacy of saving taxpayers money, the four Republicans are incapable of acting upon the true cost to Arizonans’ health and well-being caused by the continued burning of fossil fuels for energy. A logical fallacy because it’s a virtual certainty that while there might be savings from getting rid of those pesky environmental rules, the unpredictable and mercurial nature of fossil fuel pricing will skyrocket future rates much higher than the relative pittance saved today.

Starting in 2020, solar-generated electricity became cheaper than fossil fuels-generated electricity. Even conservative M.I.T. and National Institute of Health studies support this conclusion, adding that one cannot assess the costs of energy without considering the true cost, the so-called “externalities” of burning fossil fuels, including acid rain, smog, land degradation, asthma, cancer, sea level rise and species extinction. At every point in the production cycle, we’re met with air and water pollution, toxic releases, and waste products hazardous to public health.

Greedy utilities oppose solar power.

Click picture to learn about the Tucson Citizens Climate Lobby

The utilities do not want the solar industry. In a stunning public admission under oath – saying what most observers assumed despite utility PR spin to the contrary – the utility industry’s own expert witness testified “that utilities oppose rooftop solar because it is a threat to their profits.”

The current ACC 4–Kevin Thompson, Nick Myers, Jim O’Connor and Lea Marquez-Peterson likely really do care about health and safety, but they’re caught up in the politicization of global warming, unable to clearly view the tsunami of climate woe that is now and will continue to beset Arizona, and unable to make objective unfiltered judgments.

Current ACC actions are more or less in lockstep with the chronology of the increasingly chaotic and vitriolic political divide. Rules and regulations the 4 currently target for repeal were passed 10-18 or so years ago when the then ACC majority was paying more attention to climate change and the health and safety of Arizonans than to offending perceived political communities.

Three of the 5 ACC seats will be contested in November’s election and, once again, will be at the bottom of the ballot. Do your voting from the bottom of the ballot up. No other vote you cast on that ballot will personally impact you as much as the ACC contested seats. If you care about the environment, love living in Arizona with its flora and fauna, delight in the big sky, and experience the outdoor lifestyle, vote for people who will change the current ACC direction away from shortsighted savings.

Their savings are killing us.