In 2018 Arizona Public Service spent over $30 million dollars fighting liberal billionaire (and Democrat Presidential Candidate) Tom Steyer and his effort to impose California-style green energy mandates on Arizona ratepayers.
They weren’t the only ones fighting against this radical measure. Organizations and individuals from around the state banded together to fight Prop 127 and the permanent economic harm it would inflict on homeowners and business owners.
After learning about how Steyer’s renewable energy plan would lead to skyrocketing utility bills, voters overwhelmingly rejected Proposition 127 by a 2 to 1 margin (32-68 percent). The message was clear: RATEPAYERS DO NOT WANT ENERGY MANDATES.
Fewer than 18 months later it appears that both Steyer and APS have decided to ignore the will of the voters. Late last month APS announced they are rolling out, with full support of the environmental left and Tom Steyer, the “Arizona Green New Deal”. Under their proposal, APS will shift to 100 percent carbon free generation by 2050, regardless of cost, reliability or whether their customers support the concept.
Just to explain how radical this plan is, the Arizona Green New Deal is more extreme than the 25 percent renewable energy mandate Steyer pitched to voters in 2018. Only this time voters won’t get an opportunity to reject the deal since APS can implement it unilaterally and their monopoly rate base has nowhere else to go.
APS will attempt to explain their flip flop by saying that this is only “aspirational” and that it helps protect and promote nuclear power in Arizona. This is utter nonsense. Make no mistake: unless this plan is stopped it will be adopted by the Arizona Corporation Commission and will become a mandate.
And if the Palo Verde Generating Station is really under threat from the likes of Tom Steyer or other anti-nuclear environmentalists, then the better approach is to pass and promote laws to preserve the energy source. The fix should NEVER BE to saddle their captive ratepayers with all the risk of their Green New Deal, especially given the lousy track record of government selecting which companies/industries in the renewable energy industry to support.
While ratepayers will be saddled with no options and escalating utility bills, APS will be immune from the negative impacts. As a regulated corporate utility, they are constitutionally guaranteed a rate of return, which will be provided by the Arizona Corporation Commission in generous profitable increments over the next 30 years.
If this is the path that existing monopoly utility providers want to pursue, then ratepayers deserve the right to opt out. For years there has been discussions on enacting utility competition in Arizona and giving customers the option to choose their own energy provider. Now is the time to press forward on this issue. If APS wants to impose higher costs through their Green New Deal, then they should be required to compete with other utilities offering alternative plans.
Additionally, ratepayers need to have legal protections to ensure that cheap, reliable energy takes precedent over unpopular partisan politics. Since the current structure is not putting ratepayers first, systemic reforms are necessary.
The Club urges both the Corporation Commission and the Legislature to honor the will of the voters and take action against the Arizona Green New Deal. Don’t let bullies like Tom Steyer dictate energy policy in our state.