On behalf of the Conservative Alliance for Solar Energy (CASE), we applaud our state’s utility regulators — the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) — for recently considering increasing the renewable energy policy for Arizona. As conservatives, we believe energy policy, such as a strong renewable energy standard, is economically critical for our state and that Arizona should lead on America’s clean energy transition.
Back in 2006, the then Republican-led ACC set an aggressive mandate for renewable energy with the Renewable Energy Standard Tariff (REST). REST has served Arizona well but is now woefully outdated.
Arizona needs a bold change in the REST requirements to achieve massive economic benefits for businesses and local homeowners. And we need to do this quickly. New Mexico, Nevada, Hawaii, California and Washington have already passed laws requiring 100% renewable energy by 2045 or 2050. We are still sitting at a weak 15% renewable energy, for comparison.
In addition to a total of states with 100% renewable energy requirements, 131 U.S. cities have committed to 100% renewable energy. Six of those cities have already accomplished 100% renewable energy.
We strongly suggest that Arizona needs a requirement for 100% clean energy by 2045 to remain economically competitive with other states and to keep residential electric bills low. And we need that requirement to be mandatory and not just a goal.
We applaud the commission’s wise actions to impose a moratorium on new gas-fired generation. Other states are shutting down gas plants, especially gas peaker plants, and replacing them with renewable solar and wind with batteries. In fact, experts report that it is cheaper to shut down fully amortized coal and gas generation and replace it with cheaper, clean wind and solar with batteries.
Los Angeles famously just signed a contract for new solar at just less than 2 cents per kilowatt hour and associated battery storage for 1.3 cents per kilowatt hour. Neither coal, gas nor nuclear can compete with 3.3-cent power. And that is especially true in solar-rich Arizona.
Again, we strongly recommend a requirement for regulated Arizona Utilities produce at least 50% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% solar by 2045. The landscape for power generation technology and costs have changed dramatically. We believe the requirements the ACC is responsible for setting for monopoly electric utilities like Arizona Public Service must also change dramatically to take advantage of these new realities.
Dru Bacon is the president of CASE and resides in Goodyear.