Proposition 127 Lets Voters Decide Arizona's Energy Future

By Will Stone
Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2018 - 8:48am
Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 2018 - 10:15am

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prop 125 prop 127
Justin Stabley/KJZZ
Descriptions of Arizona Proposition 125 and Proposition 127 on an early ballot.

Should Arizona’s power companies get half of their energy from renewable sources by 2030?  Voters will soon decide that prickly policy question.

Proposition 127 would amend Arizona’s constitution with that new renewable energy target.

It has become the most expensive ballot question in the state’s history.

Opponents warn of sky-high electricity bills, job losses and shuttered power plants

Supporters promise improved public health, cheaper bills and a thriving green economy.

Arizona Public Services is heavily funding the opposition. California billionaire Tom Steyer is putting millions into passing the measure.  Both sides have their own numbers and their own interests.

Dylan Sullivan, a scientist with the Natural Resource Defense Council, says the ballot measure is the only way to respond to inaction at Arizona’s public utilities commission.  

“Unfortunately, utilities and their regulators aren’t doing their jobs and looking out for the most cost effective resource for Arizonans,” said Sullivan, who is with the Proposition 127 campaign.

RELATED: A Guide To 2018 Arizona Ballot Propositions

Arizona’s current renewable energy target is 15 percent.

Sullivan says utilities will simply build more natural gas plants instead of investing in renewable energy unless forced to do otherwise.

“We have a broken system in Arizona where utilities like APS are the biggest contributors in the elections of their regulators,” Sullivan said.

Given those conflicts of interest, Sullivan said placing this requirement in the constitution is the only way to ensure Arizona moves toward cleaner energy.

But Andrew Clark, the state director of Americans for Prosperity, said this is a dangerous approach.

“The constitution should be a vehicle to protect people’s rights not to make policy,” Clark said.

Clark argues the measure will drive up costs by forcing utilities to invest in expensive alternatives.

“This is going to cause massive increase of cost for consumers, that’s ultimately going to lead to less people being able to afford it, which leads to less jobs,” Clark said.

Even if the measure passes, it’s not clear utilities will have to follow the plan.  

State lawmakers changed the law this session so utilities can choose to pay a small fine, rather than follow any new mandate.

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