Proposed Law Could Let Arizona Utilities Easily Skirt Renewable Energy Requirements

By Will Stone
Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 - 5:17pm
Updated: Thursday, March 22, 2018 - 1:54pm
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Gavin Maxwell/Cronkite News
A solar facility in Tonopah, Arizona.

Arizona utilities could soon be able to more easily skirt renewable energy requirements.

On Wednesday, the Arizona Senate voted in favor of a bill aimed at thwarting a proposed constitutional amendment that would require half of the state’s energy come from renewables by 2030.

Under House Bill 2005, public utilities that violate the state’s renewable energy standard would be subject to a fine of $100 to $5,000 — such a small amount that critics says utilities will ignore the rules altogether.

“The legislation takes us in the wrong direction by eliminating accountability for our regulated utilities,” Democratic Sen. Andrea Dalessandro said.

Opponents argue the last-minute bill is unconstitutional and a preemptive effort to undermine the will of the voters. The campaign, Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona, needs to collect more than 225,000 signatures by early July to ammend the constitution.

A spokesperson for Arizona Public Service has openly said the utility helped craft the legislation in response to the renewable energy ballot initiative, which is backed in part by progressive California billionaire Tom Steyer.

Republican Sen. Sylvia Allen who supports the bill said the ballot measure would jack up the price of power and hurt consumers.

“I am sick and tired of millionaires and billionaires outside this state putting together initiatives, spending billions of dollars, put out ads and 30-second soundbites, where the people aren’t understanding all the ramifications and long term consequences,” Allen said.

The bill passed on party lines and now heads to the Arizona House of Representatives.

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