so many Arizonans are preoccupied with COVID-19 numbers, Presidential bids, a
destabilized economy and an uncertain school
year, the already obscure Arizona Corporation Commission
has quietly released their plan to impose California-style energy mandates in Arizona.
As drafted, the proposed energy mandate will lead to skyrocketing utility bills, ban future natural gas development and generation in Arizona, provide billions in subsidies and
corporate welfare for inefficient and costly
energy sources and ignores the will
of the voters that have
already spoken and oppose a statewide
Commission is intentionally pushing controversial policies during a crisis
Aside from the multiple policy concerns the Club has with this proposal, it is extremely
disconcerting and unfair to the ratepayers of Arizona that the commission is even considering
moving forward with such a sweeping proposal during the current pandemic.
It is hard enough during normal times for citizens to engage in the byzantine format at the
corporation commission. The entire process is confusing, lacks transparency and caters to the
lawyers, lobbyists and political insiders who know how to
use the system to their benefit.
Now, in the middle of a pandemic, the commission is forging ahead with sweeping new energy mandates while the public is focused on other critical issues. Even if the public was fully aware
of what the commission is considering, due to social distancing and other Covid-19 restrictions,
it is more difficult than ever for regular people to engage in the process. On the flipside, the
insiders at the commission benefit from this arrangement because it amplifies their voice and influence at the commission.
Mandate will lead to higher utility bills
No matter how proponents
attempt to spin this, imposing their own version of the Green New Deal will lead to higher utility bills for customers. This is because
the proposal punishes any
source of energy that does
not meet this “clean” definition, irrespective of cost.
As has been pointed out by Commissioner Justin Olson in the past, the current 15% mandate imposed by
the Commission in 2007 led
to ratepayers overpaying for their electricity by
over $1 Billion Dollars. This was caused largely by forcing utilities to adopt renewable energy sources with
little regard to the cost of construction or generation. It is inevitable that this new proposal will
suffer the same costly
This proposal does not require utility providers or the commission to prioritize affordability
regarding clean energy sources. Instead it imposes large scale mandates for clean sources and
ignores the cost implications for ratepayers.
The good news for supporters of clean energy technology is
can be prioritized while
developing some types of clean
example, industrial grade solar is now selling for as little as 3 cents/kilowatt when operating at
levels, beating other fossil fuel competitors and nuclear. Industrial grade solar could easily
be paired with other base load power sources (such as natural gas) that would be a win-win for
ratepayers and supporters of clean energy.
Proposal Bans Future Natural Gas Development
It is clear from the staff proposal that the long-term goal of this clean energy mandate is to ban
future fossil fuel use in Arizona, including the development and construction of natural gas power plants. Suffice to say this would
be a huge mistake and very
costly for ratepayers.
Natural gas has become one of the cheapest, most reliable and
clean energy sources
available in the United States. This is largely due to the fracking boom, which has guaranteed our energy security
and independence for
gas is by far the most affordable and
dependable fuel to
use in conjunction with
industrial grade solar. The idea
commission is going
to ban this source from future
expansion is a disastrous policy decision
that will damage both ratepayers and our economy.
Corporate Welfare for Rooftop
Included in the energy mandate proposal is a requirement for clean energy generation to come from rooftop solar. It is difficult to see how the inclusion of
this policy carve-out as a required clean energy source as anything more than a
special interest giveaway to a politically connected group at the Commission.
Lazard is a
nationally recognized firm that produces an annual report showing the true cost of energy production by different sources,
both subsidized and unsubsidized. Not surprisingly, the report shows that natural gas, industrial grade solar
and geothermal are the
most cost-effective sources of energy. The most expensive? Residential Rooftop Solar. And it’s
not even close.
Given the superior energy alternatives that exist (including various types of solar energy generation), it makes no
sense to force ratepayers to pay higher utility bills to subsidize more rooftop
solar. The only
this corporate welfare are
the rooftop solar companies
that will be
cashing in on the mandate.
Proposed Rules Ignore the
Will of the Voters
In November 2018, Arizona voters
soundly rejected the idea of increasing renewable energy
standards. Ratepayers recognized that increasing the renewable energy mandate would
result in higher utility bills and potentially destabilize the power grid. That is why 68% of Arizona voters rejected the idea.
the proposed energy rules and amendments being offered by Commissioner Burns and Kennedy are almost a carbon copy of what voters opposed. It appears they don’t care what voters
think and that they know better.
we are still in the early stages of the rulemaking process at the Corporation
Commission, which means voters still have time to have their voices heard. We cannot let the commission adopt their own
version of the Green New Deal that will be disastrous for Arizona ratepayers and the economy.
The would-be school year is fast
approaching and thousands of parents across Arizona are panicking.
How will their children learn
this year? When will they have a
physical place to go? Will parents be
able to return to work? Will they have
to pay for tutors out of pocket?
With most of the critical
reopening decisions now in the hands of Superintendent Kathy Hoffman, school
districts and ultimately the teachers’ union, it’s obvious now that crafting a
system that works for parents and kids won’t be the top priority for the
educational establishment. Every
decision from here on out will be to cater to the desires of administrators and
Come August 17th,
district school families will be forced to accept whatever dysfunctional
Covid-schooling platform that is thrusted into their laps. Parents of low-income families will be hit the
hardest, especially those who can’t work from home. Special needs children will
be hung out to dry. Kids in abusive households will continue to have no escape
from a hostile environment.
And if any parent or taxpayer
questions why their needs appear to be secondary to those of the educational
establishment, they are immediately shouted down and told that they just want
people to die. So what if your child
needs in person learning—you should just accept paying unlimited amounts in taxes
to feed a substandard educational system that only adds to the chaos in your
Even more infuriating is the “solution”
now being offered to parents that require in person schooling to address their
work/life situations. Rather than open up for learning, several school
districts are now offering paid
That’s right – residents already
paying over half of their state taxes to education are now expected to pay
to have their kids in school to not learn. Representatives of the teachers’ union claim it
is too risky to teach kids in a classroom, but apparently it is plenty safe to not
teach them in a classroom.
Parents and kids deserve better
Families were willing to extend
grace at the end of the school year when districts scrambled to reformat the
educational experience for online and distant learning. The legislature passed emergency
measures to ensure funding would be uninterrupted. And instead of
developing a real plan that catered to families that MUST HAVE in person
learning, the school districts and education lobby instead put all their time
and energy into a public relations campaign to push back the start date of
school to October 1st.
It should be noted that there are
many schoolteachers and administrators ready and willing to resume in person
learning. Afterall, through the peaks
and valleys of the pandemic, essential workers have stepped up and done their
jobs. Truck workers continued to deliver
critical goods, grocery store workers continued to stock shelves, and doctors
and nurses continued to man hospitals and treat the unwell. Those teachers that recognize that education
is an essential service and wish to provide in person learning to our children
should not be stopped by administrators and union thug bosses.
If district schools believe that
there is no limit to the mistreatment of hardworking families, they are in for
a rude awakening. Most parents are very
supportive of their local district school, but they will have no problem
walking away from a broken K-12 system if it benefits their child.
They may not be vocal or have
active twitter accounts, but these parents are paying attention and are wide
awake to this rolling disaster. They are thinking creatively about education and
observing more closely than ever the best ways in which their children
learn. This will lead to rapid
innovation and adoption of flexible models.
Post-pandemic, there may very
well be an explosive demand for testing new educational models, from micro-schools,
“forest schools,” digital classrooms, to expanded ESAs. An educational Renaissance is a possible and
There is an obvious reason why our state
is constantly being preyed upon by out of state interests,
pushing radical ideas every cycle at the ballot box as “citizen initiatives”.
Arizona has exceptionally low standards for qualification compared to other
Despite extremely high stakes,
(if an initiative passes it is basically permanent and can never be changed),
none of the best practices applied in other states have been adopted. A measure only requires a simple majority
passage. Proponents do not need buy-in
from the whole state, only the major metropolitan areas. There is no required sunset on the measure to
allow an ever-changing electorate to revisit the issue. And a measure need not be restricted to just
one subject but instead may be packed with a myriad of policies even if the
campaign only ever promotes one “winning” issue. Even up to two years ago, campaigns could
hire felons to collect signatures.
Most citizens intuitively know
there is something wrong with the initiative process. Polling done in 2019 demonstrated clearly
that voters believe these measures are intentionally misleading and confusing. Of those polled, 70 percent of individuals
were concerned with ballot language being confusing and the intent difficult to
understand. This applied across party
And groups pushing these initiatives
have fully taken advantage of the confusion and lack of guardrails.
Therefore, it was a major win in
2018 when groups challenged the InvestInEd initiative’s 100-word description
for being misleading to voters and the courts
ruled in their favor. The
education union had very clearly made several serious misrepresentations in
their description to voters, by both omitting the fact that all taxpayers were
going to see a tax increase as well as wrongly confusing their tax on the rich
as percent increases not percentage-point increases.
This set a new and needed
precedent. Initiative proponents cannot
lie to voters to make their initiative seem more palatable. In other circumstances, lying for material
benefit is called fraud.
These radical measures are back
this year and luckily so are the legal challenges. Although the education union
has done much to rewrite the 2018 version of InvestInEd in their effort to make
the public more accepting of a massive new tax increase, they have still failed
to be completely transparent about what the measure purports to do. Challengers are again making the argument
that the 100-word summary of the petition which is usually what singers read
(not the entire initiative language) omits critical information about the
measure including that many businesses and higher income persons would see an
almost 80 percent increase in their taxes.
The description also fails to mention that new funds generated do not
only go to teachers but to any non-administrative employee.
Hopefully, the courts make the
right decision again and do not erode the previous legal determinations. Afterall, given the few safeguards in place
to qualify a measure, the very least we can expect is proponents are not
allowed to obfuscate the truth to get their proposal passed.
Dr. Jeffrey Singer is in a
unique position to opine on the current situation in our country and
state. Not only has he worked as a
general surgeon for 35 years, including within a hospital, he is also a Senior
Fellow with the Cato Institute, researching and analyzing public policy.
Dr. Singer has published several
articles on the COVID-19 pandemic, two recently in the Washington
Examiner and USA Today. Both highlight areas in which governments
have taken broad policy actions that have had major costs and harmful unintended
consequences. He instead recommends
policymakers take both a targeted as well as softer, education-focused approach
to public health directives.
Our leaders are in a difficult
situation trying to balance the roller coaster of public opinion which often
supports those decisions which avoid consequences that can be readily observed. This explains why elected officials have
gravitated toward sweeping lockdowns, bans, and mandates. Yet Singer points out, these policies do not
consider the consequences that are not as easily observed. Aside from the obvious financial hardships
forced shutdowns have wreaked on employment, businesses, life savings and the
overall economy, there have been massive public health costs.
These include the untold lives
that will be claimed from serious illnesses because of bans on screening
procedures, from chronic diseases because patients could not keep routine
appointments, and from suicides as those already battling depression fail to
cope with prolonged isolation.
Furthermore, Arizona’s Governor,
like in many other states, issued an executive order prohibiting “elective”
surgery. This was a strategy to ensure the hospitals could build capacity and
not be overrun by pandemic patients. But
as Dr. Singer points out in his USA Today article, elective surgeries are not
the same as unnecessary surgeries. He
suggests instead that a more lasered and effective approach would be to allow
doctors, not bureaucrats, discern which surgeries should be done based upon an
analysis of risk to the hospital and patient on an individual basis.
A wise approach.
Aside from economic and health
repercussions to top-down mandates, our country and state has seen dramatic
civil unrest. Afterall, this is still
the “land of the free” and Americans do not accept controls
and dictates from government as easily as citizens of other
Ultimately Singer’s conclusion is
the right one, “Central governments and public
health officials should use a light touch when responding to public health
emergencies. Responses should be targeted, nuanced, flexible, and easily adjust
to changes on the ground based upon local knowledge. For this to happen, the
government should provide people with accurate and up-to-date information on
the nature and status of the public health emergency, along with the necessary
information and tools so they can best cope with the emergency. There is
good reason to believe that, given the right information and using
persuasion instead of coercion, public health officials are more likely to
get cooperation from the public.”
Arizona’s primary election took a
strange twist this week when campaign finance reports revealed an obscure out-of-state
dumped nearly $300,000 into Republican primary races throughout the
The mysterious group, Unite
America, is spending big money to elect a slate of liberal Republicans facing
tough primary opposition from conservative challengers. Their targets include
Carter in LD 15, Michelle
Udall in LD 25 and Joanne
Osborne in LD 13. Most of their spending has been used to attack
their conservative opponents, attempting to paint them as either unethical or
Who is Unite America? Until a
couple of years ago, they were a boutique organization based out of Denver,
Colorado that advocated for liberal niche issues such as independent
redistricting, in-home universal voting and ranked
That all changed
last year when New York billionaire Kathryn Murdoch, daughter-in-law to
Fox News mogul Rupert Murdoch, became their co-chair and primary
funder. The liberal Murdoch has been active with both the Clinton
Foundation and Clinton Climate Initiative and donated
nearly $90,000 to the Hillary victory fund in 2016. She is an outspoken Never-Trumper who supports giveaways
to illegal immigrants, radical green new
deal policies and Mike Bloomberg’s gun control agenda.
After she started bankrolling
Unite America, Kathryn Murdoch has used the group to target conservatives in
heavily republican districts around the country in an effort to replace them
with moderate/liberal politicians who will back her agenda and vote with
Democrats. She has pledged $100 Million
to these efforts, and now Arizona is in her crosshairs.
Based on the attacks levied so
far, it is pretty obvious they will say or do anything to succeed in their
quest, even if it means exposing themselves as unprincipled. For instance, in
Legislative District 15 Unite America is distributing attack ads claiming that
conservative Nancy Barto is a Hillary
Clinton supporter that wanted her to be president. That’s
right, the same New York Billionaire that worked for the Clinton Foundation,
the Clinton Climate Initiative and supported Hillary for president is now
funding anti-Hillary hit pieces against conservatives in a Republican Primary.
It doesn’t get much swampier than that.
So, to all Arizona Primary voters
in LD 13, LD 15 and LD 25—just say no to liberal New York Billionaires looking
to buy elections in our state. These Never-Trumpers would not have parachuted
into Arizona throwing money around if they did not believe their preferred
candidates would deliver for them on open borders, gun control and the green
new deal. Make sure to back the true conservatives in these races:
Montenegro and Tim Dunn in LD 13
Barto in LD 15
Pearce and Rusty Bowers in LD 25
Vote for these candidates and
tell these out of state liberal billionaires to take a hike.