Op-ed written by Victoria Steele, a Democratic state senator from Tucson.
Here in Arizona, we face critical decisions on our energy future regarding the wellbeing of our citizens and our economic viability. That’s why I stand in strong opposition to legislation that would strip the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) of its ability to set renewable energy standards. In a nutshell, Senate Bill 1175 is an unconstitutional power grab by the Republican-controlled legislature in order to derail the commission’s new, modernized clean energy rules.
This bill targets and threatens the bipartisan clean energy rules now being considered—rules that will save ratepayers money, clean up our air and boost our economy. The ACC’s clean energy rules allow us to benefit from the least expensive sources of electricity as renewables and energy efficiency save ratepayers money, because there are no fuel costs with renewables as there are with fossil fuel sources.
The ACC is an independent elected body, constitutionally charged with setting energy policy and regulating utilities. The Arizona Legislature is not in charge of the Corporation Commission and lacks the legal standing to pass this bill, a position the Arizona Supreme Court recently made clear when it ruled in Johnson Utilities v. Arizona Corporation Commission that “the legislature may only enlarge, not lessen, the Commission’s authority.”
When it comes to making critical decisions on Arizona’s energy portfolio, regulation and ratemaking, we must have those experts making the decisions. In the legislature, we are expected to know a little about a lot of topics as we aim to debate a record number of bills in less than 100 days. Meanwhile, the Corporation Commission is laser-focused 365 days a year on these vital energy issues.
Further, these new clean energy standards are good for Arizona’s economy. Businesses are demanding more affordable sources of energy and cleaner air, which is not only good for the environment but for their bottom line. Companies like Google, the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Tesla and the Arizona Technology Council, which represents more than 800 tech sector businesses and more, support the ACC’s clean energy rules and oppose SB1175 because it would create an uncertain business environment for clean energy investments.
The bottom line is that clean energy is the future. This bill stifles that future, allowing other states to race ahead of us in attracting successful sustainable businesses and jobs and creating a healthier, cleaner environment.
VISIT HERE to view the op-ed published in the Arizona Mirror in its entirety.
Victoria Steele is a Democratic state senator from Tucson. She was elected to the state Senate in 2018, and served in the state House of Representatives prior to that.
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