By Arizona Corporation Commissioner Justin Olson
On Wednesday, the Corporation Commission disregarded the clear will of the voters and advanced energy mandates nearly identical to what the voters overwhelmingly rejected just over two years ago. With 68.2% voting no, Arizonans resoundingly defeated Proposition 127 that would have required Arizona’s utilities to obtain 50% of their power from renewable sources. Voters sent a clear message that they do not support arbitrary mandates that will drive up the cost of their energy bills .
While Proposition 127 was a 50% renewable energy mandate by 2030, the draft energy rules adopted by the Commission yesterday include a 50% carbon emissions reduction mandate by 2032. But that’s not all, the Commission’s rule goes far beyond Prop-127’s 50% threshold and requires a 100% ban on carbon emissions by 2070.
Two years ago, California adopted a similar 100% standard and the result has been disastrous. Californians pay 50% more for their power than Arizonans, and, what do they get for this premium—rolling blackouts. In the heat of the summer last year, Californians found themselves with no ability to turn on their air conditioning units, power their appliances or even have a light to read. There was not enough power to go around due to California’s failed policies. Why would Arizona adopt the same mandates that led to these miserable results?
During the Commission’s deliberations, I offered an amendment to the energy rules that would have honored the will of the voters and protected ratepayers. With my amendment, the mandates would only apply if the projects available to meet the carbon reduction thresholds were the lowest-cost method of meeting customers’ energy needs. Unfortunately, the Commission rejected this commonsense amendment and made it clear that these rules are designed to drive up costs to ratepayers.
When I ran for the Commission, I promised to pursue policies that will lead to the lowest rates possible while still maintaining safe and reliable services. I have sought to honor this pledge with each of my votes at the Commission and my vote yesterday was no exception. I proudly voted to respect the will of the voters and to protect the ratepayers from unwanted rate increases. It’s disappointing that a majority of the Commission did not do the same.