APS spends big to keep clean-energy measure off ballot – but what was paid for isn’t clear

By Rachel Leingang | Arizona Republic

Arizona’s largest utility has spent millions so far trying to derail an effort to ask voters to increase the state’s requirements for renewable energy.

What exactly the money was spent on is unclear.

Also unclear: whether the measure they oppose will even make the 2018 ballot.

In new campaign filings, Arizona Public Service Co.’s parent company reported spending nearly $6 million on a signature-gathering firm in the past few months. The company didn’t appear to gather any signatures to place a measure on the ballot.

The group’s spokesman refused to say what the millions were spent on, but the spending is unusual in Arizona politics. Typically, if a group spends millions on a signature-gathering firm, they are gathering signatures for a ballot effort.

The money spent by the utility giant is twice the amount spent by the group trying to actually put the measure on the ballot.

The ballot measure — backed by Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona — seeks to require utilities to get 50 percent of their power from renewable sources like solar and wind by 2030, a dramatic increase from current state goals.

In total, Arizonans for Affordable Electricity, a political action committee whose sole donor is APS parent company Pinnacle West, brought in more than $7.5 million this election cycle.

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