By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services/East Valley Tribune
The outcome of next month’s race for the Arizona Corporation Commission will determine how much more solar and other renewable energy electric utility consumers will have to buy.
Both the Democrats and Republicans, incumbents and challengers alike, say they support the current mandate for all investor-owned utilities to generate 15 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2025. And there were no calls to repeal the current surcharges that utilities can charge customers to promote those sources.
But the three Republicans made it quite clear during an hour-long televised debate on KAET-TV Monday night that they have no interest in raising that figure, not now — and perhaps not ever. They argued that while renewable energy is a nice goal, the cost to current customers makes it too prohibitive.
“The economy is the critical issue here,” said former state Senate President Bob Burns, hoping to gain one of the three seats on the commission which is responsible for electric, gas, water, phone and sewage rates for private utilities.
“Rates are affected by an increase in (the mandate),” he continued. “In the current economic condition we are in, that increase in rates, I believe, would be very harmful to the overall economy of the state of Arizona.”