Like other states in the West, Arizona is caught in a tug-of-war between advocates who want a rapid decarbonization of the electricity system and utilities that want to take their own sweet time, but that are being pulled in that direction.
The parent company of the state’s largest utility, Arizona Public Service (APS), managed to pour enough money into the 2018 election to kill a ballot initiative that would have set a 50% by 2030 renewable energy mandate for the state. However, if APS won that battle, it is losing the war. Despite years of “dark money” spending APS appears to have lost control of the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), with newly elected Commissioner Sandra Kennedy (D) calling for 50% renewable energy by 2028.
But the pressure is not only coming from ballot initiatives and the ACC – it is also coming from APS’ customers. Furthermore, APS’ resistance to these policies does not mean that it is not deploying renewable energy. In fact, yesterday the utility announced that it plans launch two requests for proposals (RFPs) to procure 150 MW of solar by 2021, and 250 MW of wind as soon as possible.
The wording of a press release indicates that the power from these new projects will be sold through a “green tariff” program that allows large companies to procure renewable energy through APS. This further suggests that the impetus from this program is the renewable energy targets that tech giants and an increasing number of other companies have set.
APS estimates that this will allow it to expand its renewable energy portfolio to around 2.5 GW by 2021. The date for the RFPs to be issued is September 15 of this year.
One notable detail is that the volume of wind being procured is much higher than the solar volume. Solar represented nearly 6% of Arizona’s electricity generation last year, but wind only 0.5%. On a seasonal basis the output of wind can partially balance that of solar, as wind in Arizona has its highest output during the fall months.
This is particularly important given the active electricity trade with California, as on the West Coast – unlike all other geographies studied by pv magazine – wind output does not balance out solar output on a seasonal basis.
Calls for 100%
APS’ announcement of its twin RFPs comes the same day that a coalition of more than two dozen groups representing consumer, faith, business, health and tribal community interests submitted a joint proposal calling for Arizona to transition to 100% clean energy by 2045, with an interim target of 50% renewable energy by 2030.
These are similar targets to the mandates that have been passed in New Mexico and California over the past few years. This 50% by 2030 is also exactly the target that the Tom Steyer-backed Clean Energy for A Healthy Arizona campaign was pushing for in 2018. Additionally, like that campaign the new proposal would also require that by 2030 10% of all electricity to come from distributed resources – including rooftop solar and community solar.
Finally, the proposal includes a call greater transparency and public engagement in energy planning, meaning more scrutiny of utility integrated resource plans. Specifically:
Establishing a more comprehensive and transparent energy planning process, to provide more effective opportunities for public and stakeholder engagement and greater accountability when the ACC reviews utilities’ integrated resource plans.
The proposal has strong backing among solar advocates, with Vote Solar, Solar United Neighbors, Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association, Natural Resources Defense Council and Western Resource Advocates joining Navajo non-profit Diné CARE among the organizations supporting this call.
Whether this particular proposal succeeds or not, clean energy advocates in Arizona show no sign of stopping. APS is being dragged into a clean energy future, inevitably at a pace which is not entirely of its own choice.
This content is protected by copyright and may not be reused. If you want to cooperate with us and would like to reuse some of our content, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Up close and personal, the voter initiative was interference from outside the State and was NOT tolerated, “The parent company of the state’s largest utility, Arizona Public Service (APS), managed to pour enough money into the 2018 election to kill a ballot initiative that would have set a 50% by 2030 renewable energy mandate for the state. However, if APS won that battle, it is losing the war. Despite years of “dark money” spending APS appears to have lost control of the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), with newly elected Commissioner Sandra Kennedy (D) calling for 50% renewable energy by 2028.”
That whole initiative process was meddling by Tom Steyer from California. HIS group found a local shill to create a “movement” for a new RPS to be added to the State Constitution. Steyer’s group spent millions of dollars, getting local petition signers out and about to gather the necessary valid voter signatures to get this initiative on the ballot. As the article states, the ACC has now pushed a 50% RPS in 2028. AT LEAST the people of Arizona have some say in APS public hearings, ACC public hearings and input as to how much and how often they will get electric rate increases. The 50% RPS by 2030 was ‘determined’ to cost the average APS electric customer $83 dollars a (month) extra each month on their electric bill. At least this way the people can say DO IT I’ll pay for it now or SLOW down, I don’t want to pay that much more now.
$83 per month? Where did you get that very high figure? That doesn’t match with any of the estimates of RPS costs that have I seen.
Tom Steyer has backed RPS initiatives in a lot of states; he has the money to do so. I don’t see the relevance of an Arizona Nativist position on the fact that he funded an effort in the state, or why you are echoing the talking points of the reptiles who APS dug up to kill that effort.
This was the ‘facts’ APS gave to the ACC, Arizona Corporation Commission as to how much it would cost ratepayers to meet the Steyer RPS by 2030. It was said, that ‘on average’ the annual cost of electricity in Arizona would go up to $1,000 more per year, divide by 12 and we have $83.333 (more) a month on each electric bill. In arid, hot Arizona, that may mean very little in the price of electricity from November to April. For the Southern portion of the State where May to September one has to run the air conditioning 24/7 just to keep cool enough to sleep, well you’re looking at $800 to $1,200 a month electric bills. I would think the bulk of that $1,000 a year increase would be compressed into those already expensive May to September months.
Up close whether I or anyone else likes the way APS does business, doesn’t matter. Tom Steyer is not needed to “decide” for us, by using the power of the initiative process for HIS agenda. As you have pointed out in the article Sandra Kennedy is calling for 50% by 2028. Sandra Kennedy is beholden to the (voters) not to Tom Steyers group.
As far as APS ‘reptiles’, it is a common practice to use ratepayer’s monies in multimillion dollar hit pieces to at least try and protect their ‘regulated monopoly’. NV Energy, tried to protect their monopoly in Nevada by putting their own initiative on the ballot to change the State Constitution to NV Energy’s advantage. FP&L, Duke Energy tried the same thing in Florida and the people voted for them to pound sand. NOW FP&L AND Duke Energy can’t wait to install more solar PV in Florida. NV Energy, Duke, FP&L, APS couldn’t force protections in the State Constitution, so now the race is on to OWN the asset instead of letting the residential or business owner put in their own systems, perhaps with energy storage.
The ‘relevance’ is don’t use the people’s initiative process to protect industry by misrepresentation of a change to the State’s Constitution. Low and reptilian is the agenda money exchange administered by folks like Steyer and his ilk.
Well, this makes more sense when you reveal that this is APS’ claim. In 10 years reporting on solar, I’ve never seen anything like monthly bills going up that much due to any RPS, or any projected RPS. This sounds like APS playing fast and loose with the numbers, as they have been doing for a long time.
I don’t know why you are so obsessed with Tom Steyer, but your rants on this subject are getting tiresome.
Thanks, Christian for sharing an informative article. You have completely explained the current status and also about APS steps in renewable energy. In recent years, the consumption of electricity has increased. Large companies should make use of renewable energy so as to see better savings in energy bills.
Insightful post. World need clean energy
Very helpful information…Our future is this…
By submitting this form you agree to pv magazine using your data for the purposes of publishing your comment.
Your personal data will only be disclosed or otherwise transmitted to third parties for the purposes of spam filtering or if this is necessary for technical maintenance of the website. Any other transfer to third parties will not take place unless this is justified on the basis of applicable data protection regulations or if pv magazine is legally obliged to do so.
You may revoke this consent at any time with effect for the future, in which case your personal data will be deleted immediately. Otherwise, your data will be deleted if pv magazine has processed your request or the purpose of data storage is fulfilled.
Further information on data privacy can be found in our Data Protection Policy.