The Arizona Corporation Commissioners voted last week to require utilities to be 100% carbon-free by 2050 and meet benchmarks along the way. The bipartisan decision also established a new energy efficiency policy to help customers save money on their electricity bills. The historic vote comes after years of study, more than a dozen public meetings, thousands of written comments, and hundreds of hours of engagement by stakeholders.
“This vote positions Arizona to be a national leader in new energy technology, giving homeowners access to rechargeable batteries that help lower electric bills while providing benefits to all Arizonans,” says Marta Tomic, Interior West Senior Director of Vote Solar. “These clean energy rules will help give Arizonans more energy choices, create good-paying jobs, supercharge the local clean energy economy, and help Arizona rebuild for a brighter future.”
The policy changes approved by Chairman Bob Burns and Commissioners Boyd Dunn, Sandra Kennedy, and Lea Márquez Peterson include:
- A carbon-free electricity standard that requires Arizona Public Service (APS) and Tucson Electric Power (TEP) to be 100% carbon-free by 2050 and reduce their carbon emissions by 50% by 2032 and 75% by 2040.
- An energy efficiency standard that requires APS and TEP to cut energy waste over the next decade and provide customers with more rebates and services to replace old air conditioners, swap out inefficient water heaters, and otherwise save energy.
- A distributed storage standard that will drive the deployment of more than ~200 megawatts of customer-owned or leased energy storage systems by 2035, the equivalent of ~40,000 home battery storage systems.
- Improvements to the integrated resource planning process that will support greater transparency and stakeholder engagement as utilities develop their 15-year plans for the power system, as well as favorable siting for renewable energy in fossil fuel impacted communities.
The Commission’s action directed the start of a formal rulemaking process to adopt the policy changes they approved. That process will unfold over the next several months and include opportunities for stakeholders to provide written and public comments in the lead up to a final vote by utility regulators sometime next year.
Broad approval. A broad coalition of more than 30 industry, faith-based, and community groups have worked together for more than two years to urge the Commission to modernize its clean energy policies. They celebrated the Commission’s action today:
“Today, the Arizona Corporation Commission has spoken: Arizona will restore its role as the country’s clean energy leader,” says Ellen Zuckerman, Utility Program Director for the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. “Energy efficiency will take its rightful place as the least-cost resource to meet customer needs and spur economic growth.”
“The Commission’s vote today moves Arizona to a clean energy future that will protect our climate, our air and our health,” says JoAnna Strother, Senior Director of Advocacy with the American Lung Association in Arizona. “Arizona’s new clean energy rules will support public health by increasing energy efficiency and non-combustion renewable sources that can reduce harmful pollution that threatens our health today and supports a healthier future.”
“Today’s decision comes at a critical moment in our history, as we witness catastrophic wildfires and record-shattering temperatures,” says Adam Stafford, Staff Attorney of Western Resource Advocates. “This vote positions Arizona to create jobs, save consumers money, boost investment in renewable energy, and respond to our climate crisis.”
“For decades, Arizonans have benefited from Navajo coal and water as my people have suffered the consequences,” says Nicole Horseherder, Director of Tó Nizhóní Ání. “The Commission’s decision will give communities like mine a seat at the decision-making table and is long overdue.”
— Solar Builder magazine