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ACC Chair Lea Márquez Peterson: Modified clean energy rules back on the agenda

Arizona Corporation Commissioners have an opportunity to shape our state’s energy future while protecting our ratepayers and assuring reliability.

The following is the opinion and analysis of the writer, Lea Márquez Peterson.

Arizona is at a crossroads and has an opportunity to lead the nation in a clean energy proposal that differs from the Green New Deal.

On May 5, the Arizona Corporation Commission had one choice: Approve an incomplete Energy Rules package “as is” or adopt reasonable amendments that would fix them and move us to the next step of rule-making. Green New Deal proponents demanded the Commission adopt the flawed Energy Rules “without amendment.” Certain commissioners, myself included, wanted more debate and data to analyze and did not want to pass the preliminary package without further information. Ultimately, we have to balance the timing of the move to clean energy with affordability and reliability.

Unfortunately, after nearly 11 hours of debate, the vote to move forward with reasonable amendments did not receive support from a majority of commissioners.

How did we get here? Last year, the commission voted to advance Energy Rules that adopted 100% clean energy for Arizona by 2050. The rules were created after more than three years of stakeholder input.

I was proud to support the effort at the time but was clear that additional work would be needed following the 2020 election. Specifically, I was concerned about the impact on individual ratepayers and the fact that the data had not been provided to the commission. I was successful in requiring a cost-benefit analysis to be completed over the next few months, and noted that we were in essence voting in a vacuum without considering the financial impact to ratepayers.

Once I was elected chairwoman, I committed to placing the Energy Rules on an ACC agenda. During the meeting and in sessions leading up to the event, I repeated my concern for ratepayers and our lack of data regarding the impact. Adopting the Energy Rules “as-is” without knowing the cost impact to consumers means not only handing a blank check to utilities at the expense of ratepayers, but also rewarding special interests for the undue influence they exert.

Since the May 5 meeting, I have written to my fellow commissioners to gauge their interest in reconsidering their final votes against the modified Energy Rules. We continue to hear from ratepayers on both sides of the issue.

However, I have placed the Energy Rules as modified on a future agenda to give Commissioners an opportunity to bring specific solutions to the table that assure that there are no unintended consequences for Arizona families.

VISIT HERE to read the op-ed published in the Tucson Daily Star.


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