By Corinne Murdock |
A coalition of grassroots advocacy groups is asking the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) to reject Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) efforts by energy companies, citing the impact to consumer well-being.
In a letter sent last week, representatives of Heritage Action for America, EZAZ, and Heartland Impact, led by the Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC), expressed concern for the impact on utility rates and energy reliability that ESG implementation poses under plans submitted by APS, TEP, and UNS. The grassroots claimed that the three companies have deprioritized cost and efficiency in pursuit of voluntary climate goals.
“The Commission has a constitutional obligation to ensure just and reasonable rates and a statutory duty to ensure adequate provision of service,” stated the organizations. “That means ensuring reliable, affordable, and plentiful energy in the state, which should be the mission of this Commission. But these ideological environmental commitments do the opposite, and for that reason, they should be rejected.”
The grassroots leaders also expressed concern with the relationship between ESG and a greater political agenda to achieve “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050. In order to achieve net zero, companies would have to drastically reduce, if not eliminate totally, usage of coal, gas, and oil in exchange for renewable energies such as solar and wind.
In their letter, the organizations pointed out the intermittency — and therefore unreliability — of renewable energies. They referenced the power failures and high rates experienced by states and countries further along in their net zero journey, citing specifically California, Texas, and Germany.
The grassroots leaders maintained that ACC has the authority to prevent energy companies from quitting traditional energies and using ratepayer funds to subsidize renewables.
Utility companies previously rejected an increased reliance on renewable energies as recently as 2018, the letter noted, over concerns that such a move would greatly increase costs for ratepayers. They also cited 2021 ACC cost analysis, which found in part that a total transition to renewables could incur a $6 billion cost to ratepayers, averaging hundreds of dollars more a month, by 2050.
Last year, AFEC issued an analysis comparing the energy mandates of the 10 states with the highest electricity rates and 10 states with the lowest electricity rates. Per that report, nine of the 10 states with the highest rates had some form of mandates requiring renewable energy usage, while seven of the 10 states with the lowest rates had no mandates at all.
The report estimated that states with renewable energy mandates paid, on average, close to double what their peers in mandate-free states paid.
In a press release, AFEC President Scot Mussi blamed leftist politicians for the ESG push.
“Liberal activists and politicians in Arizona are seeking to harm our energy future, freedoms, and choices by forcing their radical and failed ESG policies on consumers,” said Mussi.
As AZ Free News reported last November, the executives overseeing those three companies have financial incentives to meet ESG criteria.