Dear Editor: There’s been a lot of misinformation about what Prop 127 will or won’t do. I want to address that and explain why I support it.
APS, through its front company, Arizonans for Affordable Electricity (AAE), and SSVEC, are panicking voters into believing their rates are going to skyrocket the moment Prop 127 passes. Their fear-mongering arguments against Prop 127 are misleading or worse.
Arizona’s climate is America’s best for taking advantage of solar energy, yet we only get six percent of our electricity that way. The costs for solar panels and storage batteries are coming down and new technologies, which could lower costs even more, are on the horizon, so no one truly knows what more solar will cost Arizona utilities and their consumers.
Yes, it’s going to cost a lot to build all those new solar fields while operating, and then taking off line, coal- and gas-fired plants. But because Prop 127 phases in its requirements, the utilities won’t need that money all at once. That will limit any rate increases that do happen.
The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) has to approve any rate increases utilities request. That process takes months, if not years. The ACC has rejected utilities’ requests for big hikes in the past because the Commissioners know they hurt the poor and those on fixed incomes.
APS—sorry, AAE—is howling about how California’s rates have increased. They’ve been going up about three percent per year, close to the rate of inflation. The national average is one percent, so yes, three percent growth per year is three times the average, but it means just a few dollars a month more each year. And because three percent is close to the rate of inflation, consumers’ buying power does not change as the rates rise, so long as their income also keeps pace.
Further, this is not just an Arizona issue. Utilities around the world are converting to renewable sources, including solar. That demand will drive the cost of solar fields down even more.
I know of three other major utilities that have already decided they can go big on renewables and still save their customers money.
- Hawaii Electric plans to be at 72 percent from renewables by 2030 and 100 percent by 2040!
- Public Service Company in Colorado plans to be at 55 percent from renewables by 2026.
- NIPSCO in Indiana plans to change 50 percent of their power generation from coal to renewables by 2028.
If they can do that, Arizona utilities can hit 50 percent by 2030.
One more thing. The Arizona legislature passed and Governor Ducey signed House Bill 2005 this year. Here’s what its key provision says:
“Any public service corporation which that [sic] violates or fails to comply with any provision of the constitution or of this chapter, or which that [sic] fails or neglects to obey or comply with any order, rule or requirement of the commission, the penalty for which is not otherwise provided, is subject to a penalty of not less than one hundred [$100] nor more than five thousand dollars [$5,000] for each offense.”
That’s right, the utilities can ignore not only Prop 127, but any rule or order the ACC writes! And they will have to pay that trivial fine only one time. You'll be shocked to know APS wrote that bill, and that it passed on party-line votes.
Now, I’m not wild about Prop 127 amending the state Constitution. It would be far better if the ACC wrote the rules, or the utilities voluntarily committed to significantly increasing the share of their energy from renewable sources, even nuclear. But Arizona is not Fantasy Island and Tattoo is not going to meet us at the ACC’s door. Commissioner Andy Tobin’s 80 percent by 2050 plan has gotten zero traction with the current Commission. It’s clear that APS, the legislators it controls, and other utilities, don’t want to switch to solar and other renewables, even though doing so will, in the long run, save all consumers, and the utilities, money.
Renewably generated energy is not the wave of the future, it’s the wave of today. I’m voting for Prop 127 to force Arizona into the 21st Century. I encourage you to do so too.
Proud owner of a rooftop solar system that provides not only him, but his neighbors, with much of the energy he needs. He lives in Hereford.