Aggressive renewable energy plan falls short (for now) at ACC hearing

(Disclosure: Rose Law Group represented Rooftop Solar and Energy Storage Providers.)

By Mike Sunnucks | Rose Law Group Reporter

Efforts to aggressively expand Arizona’s renewable energy standards fell short Thursday during an Arizona Corporation Commission hearing and have been at least temporarily delayed.   

The plan sponsored by ACC Chairman Bob Burns, a Republican, and Commissioner Sandra Kennedy, a Democrat, would have required 50 percent of Arizona’s electricity to come from renewable energy courses by 2030 and 100 percent be carbon-free by 2050.

It also requires 35 percent of the state’s electricity to be energy efficient by 2035. The effort would have also moved Arizona’s renewable benchmarks more in line with California and other states. 

But the Burns-Kennedy plan was tabled after it could not muster a third vote on the 5-member regulatory panel.  ACC Commissioner Boyd Dunn, a Republican, called for a vote on Burns-Kennedy plan without additional amendments from other commissioners.

Dunn preferred an ACC staff plan as the starting point of the effort rather than the Burns-Kennedy proposal. Burns then pulled the renewable plans from consideration.

After a brief recess, Burns then ended the meeting saying the plan could be revisited at a future meeting. “I think it’s best for all of us to take a deep breath and come back,” Burns said as he ended the meeting with any approvals.  

The Burns-Kennedy plan, which would have still gone through a public review and administrative law process, would bring Arizona’s renewable energy standards more in line with other states. California’s energy plan is to go 60 percent renewable by 2030 and 100 percent by 2045.

Maine also has a plan to go 100 percent renewable by 2050, New York by 2040, New Mexico, Virginia, and Washington state by 2045. Advocates for the Burns-Kennedy standards include environmental groups such as the Sierra Club as well as the Arizona Technology Council and some major employers such as ON Semiconductor and Ball Corp.

Business supporters contend the increased renewable standards will help Arizona’s economic development and business attraction efforts including in the sustainability space. The hearings included testimony from utilities regulated by the ACC including Arizona Public Service (APS) as well as critics of the Phoenix-based power company such as activist Stacy Champion.

“It’s crystal clear they are not in favor of renewable energy unless they are the ones controlling it,” Champion said during the public hearing. The ACC is made up 4 Republicans and 1 Democrat.

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July 2020