A Bipartisan Vote of the Arizona Corporation Commission Advances Rules
At the request of Commissioner Sandra Kennedy, the Arizona Corporation Commission reconsidered and passed a clean energy rules package on Wednesday that will modernize Arizona’s electric system. In a 3-2 vote, Democratic Commissioners Sandra Kennedy and Anna Tovar were joined by Republican Jim O’Connor in supporting the package. A similar package of measures was rejected by Commissioners in early May.
The rules set the state’s first carbon-reduction standard, continue and enhance its successful energy efficiency standard, improve and increase accountability for future energy planning by utilities, require utilities to support communities impacted by coal plant closure through the favorable siting of renewable energy projects, and establish the nation’s first distributed solar and storage requirement.
The vote comes after three years of workshops, proposals and input by community organizations, low-income and clean energy advocates, businesses, faith leaders and utilities to support a robust set of measures to set the state’s utilities on a path to clean energy and address climate change. The rules will now go through a new public comment process and come back for a final vote later this year.
“Creating a comprehensive set of clean energy rules ensures the state is economically competitive with our neighbors and creates policy certainty that will spur investment in Arizona,” said Amanda Ormond, Director of Western Grid Group. “Increasingly, businesses and local governments demand clean energy because they know that is what the public wants.”
“Early action on reducing carbon emissions to address our climate crisis is critical,” said Sandy Bahr, Chapter Director for Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon (Arizona) Chapter. “These rules include an important carbon standard to reduce emissions 50 percent by 2032, as well as standards for energy efficiency and distributed storage that will help our state move forward on reducing emissions. Sierra Club appreciates the Commission moving these Clean Energy Rules forward and to seeing final adoption later this year.”
“Electricity customers are the winners with today’s rules vote. Continuation and expansion of energy saving programs by utilities will allow low-income, home and business customers access to programs that will save them energy and money,” said Ellen Zuckerman, Co-Director of the Utility Program for the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. “In this challenging economic climate, providing a full array of energy savings programs will pay dividends to customers and the state as a whole by making homes and businesses more energy efficient.”
“As Arizona transitions from coal to clean energy resources, our coal-impacted communities need to see benefits from clean energy investments,” said Nicole Horseherder, executive director of Tó Nizhóní Ání. “This energy package includes the first obligation for utilities that benefited from dirty coal power to support communities that want to be included in the clean energy future by ensuring that impacted Tribal and non-tribal communities are prioritized.”
“These rules include an innovative provision to couple energy storage with distributed solar energy systems, providing the opportunity for homes and businesses to be more energy independent and resilient,” said Nicole LaSlavic, Executive Director of the Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association.
“Commissioners today demonstrated a serious commitment to modernizing Arizona’s Energy Rules and ensuring years of public participation were not lost,” said Ronny Sandoval, Regulatory Director, Interior West for Vote Solar. “Critically, these rules preserve the near-term commitments to carbon reductions that would result in expanded energy options, cleaner air, and greater economic opportunities for all Arizonans.”
“This was an important step in the right direction,” said Rev. Doug Bland, Arizona Interfaith Power & Light. “We thank Commissioners Kennedy, Tovar and O’Connor for finding a way to move these energy rules forward. Their foresight will be good for ratepayers, good for the environment, and good for the future. Faith leaders around the state affirm that robust energy rules and a just transition from fossil fuels are two essential ways to love our neighbor.”
The original rules would have saved ratepayers’ dollars and provided enormous economic benefits. In January, Stategen released a report that found that adopting the Clean Energy Rules could not only significantly reduce carbon emissions to address the climate crisis, but could also create an economic windfall of $2 billion for Arizona. While the rules were amended from the original, the near-term provisions passed today are still substantially the same and will result in significant benefits to ratepayers and the people of Arizona.