New plan aims to make Arizona a national leader in clean energy
Feb. 15, 2018
Commissioner Andy Tobin with the Arizona Corporation Commission lays out the agenda detailing battery storage, biomass fuels, energy efficiency and electric vehicle infrastructure to help the state become a leader in clean energy.
The idea of battery storage will come in handy during the summer when energy costs are the highest. While you’re away at work, a battery will absorb the power you aren’t using at home. When you come home, all that energy is now stored and you pay a lower cost for having it, Tobin explains.
“That’s the start of where this next level of energy history in Arizona is going,” Tobin says. “It’s going to go more toward batteries, more toward renewables, less toward carbons, more toward high technologies.”
Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake have expressed their approval for biomass fuels, Tobin says. With their support, this can be a “big winner.”
The plan is to clean out the junipers and other biomass. About 50,000 acres a year can be cleared which will eventually equate to a million acres in 20 years. That biomass can then be used as fuel. Tobin says this is important because states have to learn to start taking care of themselves
Tobin stresses that it is unnecessary for Arizona to put money into building new facilities. If money is put toward that kind of infrastructure, then funding is lost for the technological advancements we need to see in batteries. It’s a problem that has been seen in California. There’s talk about how great their solar power is, but right now they’re sending energy to other state’s for free.
“We have to be smarter,” Tobin says. “Let’s not build this if it’s not going to work for us.”
Electric Vehicle Efficiency
The goal of this new agenda is to have 80 percent clean energy in Arizona by 2050. Tobin says the state has already done almost all it can to keep the air clean. The main problem is that there are too many cars, and the number just keeps growing. The electric car problem can be the solution.
“We have the opportunity to grow these electrical vehicles, but we don’t have places really to charge them all,” Tobin says. “As part of our energy efficiency program… we want to add charging stations and things that will help people get used to charging stations, especially in new homes.”
However, clean energy means nuclear power. It’s difficult to determine if that is a good thing, but Tobin believes it is. He says the Palo Verde Nuclear Station is a diamond in the desert. We have been selling energy to other states. If that was to be replaced with coal or natural gas, he says the cost change would be astrological.
Tobin says that all of these goals are realistic, and the biomass fuel initiative is even becoming a mandate.
“Hopefully, this time next year we can say Arizona has an energy plan and a biomass plan at the same time. We’ll be looking at a 2019 fire season to find a time to clear the forest.”