By Steven Zylstra, Emily Duff & Doran Miller – Contributing writers
STEVEN G. ZYLSTRA
President + CEO
Arizona Technology Council
The Western Way
Manager of State Policy
Arizona is once again making history.
Utility regulators at the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) voted in mid-November to advance a bold clean-energy rulemaking package for approval, becoming the seventh state to pass requirements for utilities to generate all their electricity from carbon-free sources. In addition, Arizona is the first state where such a charge was Republican-led and bipartisan, thanks to support from Commissioners Lea Márquez Peterson and Sandra Kennedy.
A few months ago, Márquez Peterson was selected by her colleagues to serve as ACC chairwoman, making her not only the first Latina elected to a statewide office here but the commission’s first chair from Southern Arizona.
Márquez Peterson has made several of her goals clear during her first 100 days as chair, including a priority to collaborate with the Legislature and Gov. Doug Ducey on important energy issues for Arizona, and to “revisit and reinforce our pending clean and affordable energy rules to accomplish progressive outcomes through the use of conservative principles and regulatory mechanisms.”
The Arizona Technology Council, Ceres and The Western Way applaud Márquez Peterson’s commitment to move the pending energy rules forward.
Every step of the way, she has demonstrated strong leadership while championing this initiative. Márquez Peterson believes the free market is critical to effective energy policy efforts and has helped set a bold clean energy goal of “100% clean and affordable energy by 2050 for Arizona.” She has stood by her commitment to this goal while also steering clear of the turbulent political headwinds created by legislation that would undermine Arizona’s clean energy business sector.
Despite great strides being made at the ACC, a number of bills — including HB 2248, HB2737, SB 1175 and SB1459 — are seeking to block the ACC’s progress on the draft energy rules package. Passage of these bills will create market uncertainty for both current and future companies seeking to do business in Arizona.
While Covid-19 has fundamentally changed us, what remains constant is Arizona’s foundation as a technology and innovation hub driven by big ideas, talented entrepreneurs and a welcoming business environment. It is imperative to continue the upward trajectory of business relocation and expansion in sunny Arizona.
Stability and certainty encourage growth and innovation. Yet, those handful of anti-energy bills being proposed by state lawmakers as mentioned earlier in this column move us in the opposite direction.
If passed, the bills will create confusion about who is setting energy policy. Companies considering relocating or expanding their presence in Arizona will not have the market stability and certainty they seek.
The Arizona business community widely agrees that the Arizona Corporation Commission should continue its rulemaking around the energy rules without delay so as to establish clear and consistent standards for the state’s carbon, energy efficiency and storage commitments.
Technology will continue to evolve quickly, so we need the policies and infrastructure that will be able to adapt to our changing energy landscape (e.g., diversified transmission).
Arizona has proven its ability to lead the nation in developing solutions for clean and renewable energy technology in ways that benefit our economy. We now have a critical opportunity to open the doors for accelerating energy innovation even further as we plan our Covid-19 economic recovery approach. The ACC’s draft energy rules package will do just that.
As leaders representing a coalition of more than 800 large and small companies, we applaud Márquez Peterson for her continued leadership to move the draft energy rules package forward. We look forward to working with her and the other commissioners for the final vote on this package in April to propel our state forward.
VISIT HERE to view the op-ed on Phoenix Business Journal’s website.
Visit www.aztechcouncil.org/tech-events to view all of the Council’s upcoming virtual tech networking opportunities, engaging virtual tech events and in-person tech events.