Opinion: It’s disappointing that Arizona Corporation Commission Chair Lea Márquez Peterson has reversed her position, voting down a bipartisan set of clean-energy rules twice in one month.
We are heartened that the Arizona Corporation Commission voted last month to reconsider and advance a revised energy rules package. The bipartisan vote demonstrates an impressive feat of cooperation and compromise following a decision just weeks earlier that temporarily killed the package.
The modernized rules are a crucial step in the right direction for Arizona’s clean-energy economy. While we would have liked to see a more aggressive timeline for Arizona to achieve 100% carbon-free electricity, the compromise of a strong interim target to achieve 50% clean energy by 2032 will go a long way to growing a thriving clean-energy industry. Overall, the revised clean-energy rules will benefit Arizonans for decades to come.
These policies will make Arizona competitive
Effective clean-energy standards are important drivers of economic growth, and vital to Arizona’s ability to attract long-term investments, innovative companies and thousands of new jobs. With the right policies in place, Arizona will be able to compete with neighboring states for these clean-energy investments. Strong clean-energy standards will also help Arizona meet federal air quality standards, which threaten business opportunities in the state and future economic development.
Why did Márquez Peterson flip her position?
We express our continued disappointment that Commission Chair Lea Márquez Peterson has reversed her position, voting down the rules twice in one month. This is a dramatic and unexpected departure from her previous support and her previous vote in favor of stronger energy rules. Calling standards a “blank check” is relinquishing the primary role of the ACC to serve as utility regulators. We hope that as the commission works to finalize the energy rules in the months ahead, Márquez Peterson will join her fellow commissioners in support.
What is also very troubling regarding Márquez Peterson’s reversal is the change in her rhetoric during and since the vote to block the rules. An independent analysis instead found the energy rules would provide $2 billion in economic benefits to Arizonans. The rules would also prevent automatic approvals of utility investment.
We are grateful for the leadership shown by Commissioners Sandra Kennedy, Anna Tovar and Jim O’Connor. They deserve accolades for upholding the ACC’s bipartisan tradition of supporting smart, clean-energy policies, especially during a time when it feels like there is a vast divide between the two political parties.
The bipartisan vote pushed aside politics and put Arizonans first. We urge the Corporation Commission to come together to finalize the new energy-rules package this fall.
Steven G. Zylstra is president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council and Emily Duff is manager of state policy at Ceres, which advocates for practices and regulatory actions to promote sustainability. Reach them at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter: @szylstra, @emilyrduff.
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