Instead, Arizona has abundant sunshine, a clean and free fuel for electricity made from solar generation. Over the past decade, solar costs have dropped exponentially and are now the cheapest form of energy (except for energy efficiency, the best clean resource).
The cost of producing a megawatt-hour of electricity from a new utility-scale solar installation was, in the last 10 years, $28 to $34 per megawatt-hour (MWh). Contracts for solar owned by independent power producers were even cheaper, at $20/MWh.
Over the same time period, the same amount of electricity from the cheapest type of natural gas plant ranged from $45 to $74. Historic federal investments in clean energy expected over the next five years will lower the costs of renewable energy even more.
Why rely on expensive, unproven tech?
Distributed solar plus storage, electric vehicles, and energy efficiency incentives also offer exciting opportunities to put reliable power back in the hands of utility customers, but Arizona has yet to capitalize fully on these opportunities.
We will focus on rapidly and fairly deploying these resources through ratepayer-owned community solar and similar projects that center on the ratepayer, not the utility shareholder.
Commission candidates debate:Help for coal communities, renewable energy
Meanwhile, our opponents are adamant about encouraging utility investments in costly, unproven micro nuclear reactors, a technology not in operation anywhere in the country. They also support continued utility investments in volatile gas plants and increasingly risky hydropower, which is foolhardy given the extended drought and rapidly receding shores of Lake Mead and other reservoirs that provide our hydropower.
The clean energy transition is already underway, and coal plants around the West are closing due to costly maintenance and operations. In fact, the San Juan Generating Station just across the border in New Mexico just ended its 46-year run.
Arizona should move into a clean energy future
The communities whose economies depend upon coal-power plants are already reeling from the closure of the Navajo Generating Station and the Kayenta Mine.
These communities gave their labor, water, and land as Phoenix and Tucson grew and prospered from cheap electricity. Now their air is polluted, the water supply is diminished, and many are left without their own running water or electricity.
The Kuby and Kennedy team believe that these communities, which include the Navajo and Hopi nations, deserve the funding they are requesting from the utility companies to begin a resident-led transition from a coal-based economy to a clean-energy economy that protects the water, air, and land while offering good-paying jobs.
As Arizona races a ticking clock on a rapidly changing climate and dwindling water resources, this election cycle voters have the chance to decide:
- Should the state move into a clean energy transition that can bring incredible benefits to the rural and urban areas of our state?
- Or will we rely on risky, volatile-priced resources like gas or other costly utility investments that increase shareholder profits at the expense of Arizonans’ wallets?
The choice is clear: Lauren Kuby and Sandra Kennedy will protect Arizonans from rising costs – and ensure a clean energy future for our state. Arizona is poised to become the solar capital of the U.S. Our children and grandchildren are depending on us to lead the way.