Some ideas need to be put to sleep. Maybe someone should tell that to the Arizona Corporation Commission.
About a year ago, the commission quietly released its plan to impose California-style energy mandates in our state. While following in California’s footsteps for just about anything seems like a bad idea, that certainly rings true when it comes to energy.
After all, last August, not too long after the Arizona Corporation Commission released its plan, California instituted its first intentional rolling blackouts since 2001. And the state’s residents were also asked to conserve electricity during a significant heatwave last summer.
But this year, it may be even worse. While electricity prices explode across the state, more blackouts are almost guaranteed to happen again this summer. But California won’t be the only state affected.
California is exporting blackouts
To protect themselves, California is buying up power around the West, essentially exporting blackouts to other states. Apparently, they’re afraid to rely on all their “green” energy and solar power. What does that tell you?
But unfortunately, Arizona is a part of the Western Interconnection, making it one of the most likely states to be impacted by California’s failures. Now, despite seeking energy mandates just like California’s, the Arizona Corporation Commission and other utilities are worried. Earlier this month, they even issued a warning that California’s decisions could lead to outages here in Arizona this summer.
Can you imagine having intentional blackouts during a 110-degree day in Phoenix?
That doesn’t sound like fun, and our commissioners are right to be concerned. But then, why are they pushing the same California-style mandates right here in our state?
Arizona Corporation Commission continues to embrace the Green New Deal
You would think having a front row seat to California’s grid meltdown would be enough for our own commission to learn a lesson. But they just can’t help themselves. In November of last year, the commission voted 4-1 to initially approve a plan to ban fossil fuels and require most electricity companies to provide “clean” energy by 2050. The lone vote against this ridiculous plan belonged to conservative Republican Justin Olson.
Then, in early May, something changed. The Arizona Corporation Commission made an amendment to the original plan and rejected the 100% “clean” energy rules. Our state appeared to dodge a bullet. But at the end of May, the commission revived the so-called “clean energy” plan and is now looking to ban all fossil fuels by 2070.
Not only does this ignore the will of the voters, who largely rejected the statewide energy mandate sought by Proposition 127, but it will lead to less reliable energy, higher rates, and millions of corporate welfare dollars going to special interest groups. A final vote on the revised energy mandates is expected to take place sometime this December.
Our commissioners have seen the warning signs. They have watched California go all-in on the Green New Deal. They claim they are upset and worried about it. Now, they have to decide if they plan to take Arizona down the same exact path.
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Supporters of the Arizona Corporation Commission’s plan to impose the Green New Deal and ban all fossil fuels are up in arms this week. The reason? The legislature has decided to exert their constitutional authority and make it clear that they are in charge of setting energy policy for the state.
This week the Arizona House and Senate are hearing HB 2248 and SB 1175, legislation that would prohibit the Corp Comm from adopting any policy or rule regulating distributed energy without legislative authorization. Several interest groups and Green New Deal activists have signed in against the bill, and they have coalesced around one argument: legislators aren’t smart enough to handle energy policy. This is a topic that should be left up to the “experts” over at the ACC.
Just a cursory look through the comments submitted to Request to Speak, the legislative system used to register support or opposition to a bill, catalog dozens of statements ranging from condescending to insulting.
Here is just a small sample of the vitriol sent their way:
Lawmakers Are Too Dumb to Understand Energy Policy
“The ACC is independently elected to make energy decisions because they are more knowledgeable than legislators!”
“ACC, not state reps, have focus & expertise to determine energy issues.”
Apparently legislators are competent enough to decide tax policy, create the state’s budget, criminal code, and legislate on other complex issues, but when it comes to energy policy our elected legislative body is not qualified enough.
Will of the Voters! Except for the Steyer Initiative, That Doesn’t Count
“This bill proposes to disrespect the will of the voters who strongly supported Clean Energy”
“The ACC Rules being considered have been properly vetted and have strong public support. This bill is legislative overreach.”
It was only two years ago when Arizonans overwhelmingly rejected Proposition 127, a ballot measure that would have imposed Green New Deal energy mandates very similar to what is being proposed by the ACC. Voters have spoken on the issue, and it wasn’t to have the Corp Comm install a sweeping energy plan that will raise utility prices and cause rolling blackouts in the state.
Arizona Should Adopt California-Style Energy Mandates
“Clean energy is good for Arizona. It keeps electricity costs lower, consistent, predictable and reliable over the long term. Being a solar leader gives us more energy independence and control. This is not the Legislature’s job.”
California tried the same plan, and what was the result? After weeks of rolling blackouts Governor Gavin Newsom was forced to beg residents to limit the use of their appliances and turn up their air conditioning thermostats. It got so bad that Newsom suspended the closure of several natural gas power plants that were scheduled for closure.
The Legislature Needs to Butt Out and Let the ACC Run Wild
“DO YOUR WORK AND LET THE ACC DO THEIRS—READ THE CONSTITUTION!”
While the constitution does say that the Corp Comm “may prescribe… and make and enforce reasonable rules, regulations, and orders for the convenience, comfort, and safety, and the preservation of the health, of the employees and patrons,” it also makes it clear that the Legislature has the final say. In the recent Johnson Utilities court decision, Arizona Supreme Court unanimously held that the legislature’s authority over the public health and wellbeing of Arizonans “is paramount” to that of the Commission’s on matters of policy.
As HB 2248 and SB 1175 move forward, it will be interesting to see how lawmakers respond to being told that they are stupid and should stand in the corner while the Corp Comm attempts to set energy policy for the state. Hopefully it will stiffen their resolve to do the right thing: stopping the Green New Deal in Arizona.
Lea Márquez Peterson was elected to the Arizona Corporation Commission this past November, running as a Republican. But it didn’t take long before she threw the 1.4 million people who voted for her completely under the bus.
Earlier this week, in a surprise move, Márquez Peterson voted for herself to serve as chair of the five-member commission. And who do you think voted with her to ensure she won the top seat? Democrats Sandra Kennedy and Anna Tovar.
In this position, Márquez Peterson will set meeting agendas, run meetings, and set the overall tone of the commission. But normally, the role of chair goes to the person who has served the longest, which in this case would have been Conservative Republican Justin Olson.
But not this year.
Apparently, Márquez Peterson made a New Year’s resolution to gain more power and control. But at what cost? And what kind of deal did Márquez Peterson make with the Democrats to gain such a position?
A “Green New Deal” perhaps?
The role of the Arizona Corporation Commission is to set rates and policies for utilities. And right now, the commission is in the process of developing a “clean energy” plan that looks to ban fossil fuels by 2050. In essence, they are trying to pass the Green New Deal right here in Arizona. And who do you think has served as a key swing vote to drive such measures? Lea Márquez Peterson.
A Green New Deal in Arizona would mean less reliability, higher rates, and millions of corporate welfare dollars going to special interest groups. But that’s not all…
You can also expect to see more California-style blackouts just like this past summer. Do you remember those?
In August 2020, California’s electricity grid was under an immense strain. And because of that, the state instituted its first intentional rolling blackouts since 2001. And the state’s residents were also asked to conserve electricity during a significant heatwave this past summer.
Now, imagine that possibility when it’s 110 degrees in Phoenix. And imagine being forced to pay more money out of your pocket for it.
If “Green New Deal” Lea gets her way, that’s where we’re headed.
But perhaps she doesn’t care that she betrayed every Republican that voted for her this past November. Perhaps she’s ok with it, so she can have more power, control, and whatever else the Democrats have promised her.
Lea Márquez Peterson sold out. And now the people of Arizona live under threat of the Green New Deal passing.
Somewhere, Bernie Sanders and AOC must be smiling.
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.
It is difficult amid the chaos
and unpredictability surrounding our Country’s new COVID-19 reality to think
about what life will look like when this crisis subsides. Yet it is during the most difficult of challenges
when nations decide if they will surrender their fundamental
values in exchange for the promise of security.
Whether our leaders argue that
drastic times call for drastic measures, the ends justify the means, or promise
that everything will go back to normal after the crisis abates – it is
imperative that there are voices questioning, “what will our Republic look like
after the storm passes?”
Afterall, as reasonable or
necessary as some measures appear to a fearful populace, many in our ruling
class want to make sure to not let a good crisis go to waste.
The New York
Times recently highlighted several
chilling examples of major constitutional and human rights violations being
adopted in democratic nations with lightning speed and little resistance:
- Right to Privacy – Infringement Through
Draconian Surveillance: In Israel the Prime Minister has authorized
tracking citizens through cellphone data they developed for counterterrorism
efforts. They are tracing citizens’ every movements and can even throw people
in prison for up to six months for defying isolation orders.
- Right to Access the Ballot Box: Fair and
free elections are a cornerstone of any democratic republic. The “interim President” of Bolivia has
suspended their presidential election, unilaterally seizing a longer term and
denying citizens a basic right to choose their leader. Hungary’s Prime Minister has legislation
drafted that is likely to be passed which among many infringements also
includes the ability for him to suspend all elections and referendums. How his government ever peacefully wrest this
power away from him again is left unanswered in the legislative package.
- Freedom of the Press and Speech: Several countries are violating
basic free speech rights and persecuting journalists that publish “dissenting”
or “false” information contrary to the government. Hungary again is an offender, allowing the
public prosecutor to imprison people for up to five years for disseminating
what they consider false information.
- Right to Assembly: Our
friends overseas in Great Britain sprinted out legislation that allows their
ministries to ban pubic gatherings with little oversight as well as potentially
detain and isolate people indefinitely. In
the United States, democrats pushed hard to include language in the
COVID-19 relief package that would force non-profits and charitable
organizations to disclose
their donors, a practice that has been ruled unconstitutional
by the US Supreme court in NAACP VS
- Right to a Speedy Trial and Habeas Corpus: Israel
Prime Minister Netanyahu has shut down
courts supposedly in the name of public health. It also conveniently serves his own interests
as he was scheduled to stand trial for corruption charges. The United
States’ Department of Justice has tried similarly dangerous
tactics, requesting Congress give them the authority to indefinitely detain
someone during an emergency as well as suspend court proceedings pre and post
arrest and trial.
These infringements are hitting
close to home in Arizona. Shortly after
the crisis began, several mayors unilaterally declared a state of emergency
without notifying Governor Ducey or their fellow council members. Some used
these powers to close businesses and limit hours, often with no consideration
with how disruptive it would be for employers to comply with a patchwork of
restrictions varying city to city.
Even after Governor Ducey wisely
stepped in and established a uniform policy for the entire state, Coral Evans
of Flagstaff has willfully and publicly defied
state law. She has unilaterally
closed city salons and similar services in obvious defiance of the Governor’s
Executive Order which preempts cities from employing more restrictive orders
than outlined by his administration.
The bottom line is that citizens need
to keep a close eye on the trade-offs government officials will be asking us to
make. The fearmongering being stoked by
some politicians should be looked upon with suspicion, especially when their
solutions involve long term power grabs, endless bailouts or indefinite
shutdown orders. As scary as Coronavirus may be, ceding our rights and freedoms
to a permanent police state is a much bigger threat.
Strong hospital and insurance lobbies have long strived to block efforts in the state to give consumers more information about what health care services cost. Just last year, there was a bill at the legislature to require hospitals to provide the relative costs of services to a database that would allow consumers to discern high cost versus lower cost providers in the market and therefore make more informed decisions about their healthcare.
House Bill 2603 would have
been particularly helpful for businesses and organizations that are
self-insured and engineering their networks for employee insurance plans. Armed with even just the weighted average
payor rate and the annual rate of growth would have facilitated major shifts in
behavior by these more sophisticated insurance plan architects, forcing
premiums down over time and saving the end user money.
This bill was killed last
year by the healthcare lobby in the legislature.
Just a couple months after, President
Trump filed his executive order requiring Health and Human
Services set regulations requiring the disclosure of the secret rates insurers
pay hospitals. Since then his
administration has been promulgating
rules to prevent “surprise billing” as well as requiring
hospitals to share the discounts they give cash-paying patients.
This isn’t the only step
Trump has taken to administratively unwind the massive red tape of the
the summer of 2018, they loosened rules to allow for short term
health plans. A measure Republicans
in Arizona in the 2019 legislative session.
What Trump understands that
Republican lawmakers should learn in Arizona – is without a repeal of Obamacare
– policymakers must find alternative ways to empower choice and
flexibility in the marketplace.
Without incremental changes
that put consumers in the drivers’ seat, the ratchet will only turn more toward
government run, single-payer healthcare, accompanied by the price controls and
rationed care that comes with it.
Luckily, Arizona lawmakers
will have an opportunity to redeem themselves next session when an updated
version of HB 2603 will be introduced. We will see once again who supports
price transparency and who will carry the water for the healthcare lobby.
With the 2020 elections
looming, healthcare is on the mind of voters.
Absent a major righting of the ship in the way of repealing Obamacare,
Republicans must provide market and consumer-driven solutions to lower costs
and increase choice and quality. The
President has the right idea. Hopefully lawmakers
in Arizona continue to follow his lead.