Arizona needs aggressive, data-informed renewable energy standards. The Arizona Corporation Commission has the momentum to pass the updated standards quickly and should take action now.
In 2006, Arizona had a mere 9 megawatts of solar capacity and no wind farms, so it was a bold move when the Arizona Corporation Commission required utilities to generate 15% of their energy from renewable sources by 2025. Arizona was an early adopter of a renewable standard, which at the time was competitive with neighboring states and gave rise to Arizona’s strong solar sector.
Today, Arizona generates the third-most solar energy of any state in the union. Wind capacity has jumped to 268 megawatts. The state’s largest utilities are investing heavily in solar and large-scale battery facilities. Yet Arizona’s renewable energy standard remains unchanged. It’s past time to raise the bar.
Interwest Energy Alliance participated in the ACC’s March stakeholder meetings, where staff presented a proposal to modernize the state’s energy rules, requiring utilities to generate 50% of their energy from renewable sources by 2030 while achieving 100% carbon-free status by 2045. But the process has been slow-moving, and the time to push the proposal past the goalposts is now: replacing coal and natural gas with renewable energy will be a boon to Arizona as it recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.
Setting this goal would clear the skies in addition to boosting Arizona’s economy. A recent report from Ceres shows how:
Arizona’s current renewable energy standard spurred almost $12 billion in solar-industry investments, most of which flowed to rural communities. Today, renewable energy costs less than traditional fossil fuels. That means lower electric bills, a savings for businesses and homeowners.
The standard also drove nearly $2 billion in benefits to the public and customers of Arizona Public Service and Tucson Electric Power, and reduced greenhouse gases and water usage, according to a March 2020 report by Ceres.