Lawmakers debate the clean energy initiative that will be on the ballot
April 10, 2018
A clean energy initiative that proposes the state to convert to 50 percent renewable energy by 2030 will be on the ballot this fall for voters to decide.
Rep. Kirsten Engel, D-Tucson, is in favor of the initiative, saying it addresses the statements from Arizonans who are asking for more renewable energy. Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, says the problem isn’t with bringing in more renewable energy, but the way it’s being passed without a safety net is a dangerous thing.
“The voters are being asked to accept an extremely aggressive, potentially dangerous economically, portfolio of 50 percent by 2030,” Kavanagh says. “Very few states are that aggressive. If it can’t be met, it will make electrical costs skyrocket and it also threatens the stability of the grid. Overreliance on solar in particular which this will mostly involve means you have an irregular power supply.”
Engel believes Arizonans aren’t getting all of the facts. She says that the cost of solar is currently plummeting. On top of that, bids in Colorado for winds and storage are below the operating costs of coal right now. She cites a study that concluded there is no correlation between an increase in energy costs and more aggressive energy standards.
“New York State has a renewable portfolio standard of 50 percent ad they’ve had it in law for quite some time,” Engel says. “New York State is nothing like Arizona where we have almost 300 days of sunshine a year… [The opposing initiative] has some very vague language that allows the Corporation Commission to basically wipe out this whole renewable energy initiative if it finds that it’s not in the well-being of the state of Arizona. There’s no definition of what well-being means.”
Kavanagh points out that New York is one of the 20 states who have safety valves in place out of the 29 states with renewable energy standards. A safety valve is a backup plan if the renewable energy becomes too expensive. It will temporarily halt the converting to renewable energy process until costs are at a more affordable level. Engel says the safety valve is actually a roadblock.
Kavanagh sponsors the opposing initiative which is less aggressive and does not require a vote from the public. He says his proposal will still include guidelines for the Corporation Commission to follow.