By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services via Arizona Capitol Times
Pushing ahead where utility regulators so far will not, advocates of more renewable energy filed more than 480,000 signatures Thursday to put the question on the November ballot.
The initiative, financed largely by California billionaire Tom Steyer, would require electric utilities to get at least half their power from solar, wind, biomass and other renewable sources by 2030. That compares with the current decade-old mandate, adopted by the Arizona Corporation Commission, for a 15 percent goal by 2025.
The measure needs for the Secretary of State’s Office to find at least 225,963 of those signatures to be valid.
A challenge already is anticipated by a group called Arizonans for Affordable Energy, being financed largely by Pinnacle West Capital Corp., parent company of Arizona Public Service. Spokesman Matthew Benson has claimed that many of the circulators are convicted felons who, unless their civil rights were restored, are ineligible to gather signatures.
If it survives, expect APS to take the lead in trying to convince voters to reject the plan. Utility executives claim it will lead to higher costs, a claim disputed by advocates.