Bill to give lawmakers say on energy policy likely dead

By leungchopan

By Julia Shumway and Dillon Rosenblatt | Arizona Capitol Times

Acontroversial bill to prohibit Arizona’s utility regulators from setting state energy policy appears dead after a Republican senator decided he cannot support it. 

Related: Coal-burning Four Corners Power Plant will cut back on operations, APS says

Sen. Paul Boyer, R-Glendale, told the Arizona Capitol Times on Thursday that he still has too many outstanding questions about SB1175, which would allow only the Legislature to set energy policy. The House and Senate just don’t have the same expertise as the Arizona Corporation Commission, Boyer said.

“They have 200 staffers devoted just to energy policy at Corp Comm,” Boyer said. “We have two, one in the House and one in the Senate. So, I’m hesitant to have this major shift.” 

Because all legislative Democrats oppose SB1175 — and an identical bill, HB2248, that passed the state House on a party-line vote last week — a single Republican’s concerns spell defeat for the bill. Boyer said he told Senate sponsor Sine Kerr, R-Buckeye, that he would not vote for her bill if she brought it to the floor. Kerr did not immediately return a phone call. 

The bill’s death is a rebuke to Gov. Doug Ducey, who has pushed for the Legislature to take control of energy policy. On Jan. 15, just a few days into the legislative session, Ducey signalled his support during a public interview at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce. 

“I want to see the corporation commission setting rates and the Legislature setting energy policy and I hope that will be straightened out in this session,” Ducey said.

Both the governor and Republican lawmakers opposed the more stringent clean energy rules the Corporation Commission adopted in November. The rules, approved by three Republican commissioners and one Democrat, included a mandate that electric utilities be emission-free by 2050.

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